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Paperback | $37.95 Trade | £28.95 | ISBN: 9780262640701 | 352 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 103 illus.| September 2008

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Fantastic Reality

Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art

About the Author

Mignon Nixon is an editor of October magazine and the author of Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art (MIT Press). She is the editor of a previous October Files volume, Eva Hesse (MIT Press).

Reviews

“Like many of MIT's October series of books, this book is thick with brilliant observations, but it requires a deep familiarity with, and care for, the particulars of international modernism, the full sweep of psychoanalysis and the ends of feminist theory.”—Publisher's Weekly
“Nixon has offered, in addition to a psychoanalytic interpretation of Bourgeois's abstract art, a rich repertoire of techniques through which abstract art can be used to probe psychoanalytic thought.”—Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association
“The brilliant observations that Nixon tosses out on almost every page not only enrich our reading of Bourgeois's art, but reaccess psychoanalytic criticism with a gusto that makes the book required reading.”—Canadian Art

Endorsements

“In Fantastic Reality, Mignon Nixon not only illuminates the work of this revolutionary artist but rewrites the history of sculpture in the postwar years.”
Linda Nochlin, Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
“This is a subtle and illuminating book. In reading the sculpture of Louise Bourgeois through the psychoanalysis of Melanie Klein, Mignon Nixon offers a new understanding of the neglected relations between surrealism, feminism and child analysis. Most importantly for the theory and practice of women's art, she finds in Bourgeois the creative potential of maternal ambivalence.”
Lisa Tickner, Professor of the History of Art, Middlesex University, London
“In Fantastic Reality, Mignon Nixon not only illuminates the work of this revolutionary artist but rewrites the history of sculpture in the post-war years. Emphasizing the crucial role played by Kleinean psychoanalysis in Bourgeois' artistic project, Nixon nevertheless maintains her focus on the specific formal qualities of Bourgeois sculptural inventions, drawing us deep into the mysterious sources of the artist's multifarious creation and its relation to the work of her contemporaries.”
Linda Nochlin, Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Fantastic Reality is an extraordinary achievement. Not only is its view of Louise Bourgeois the most subtle account we have of her work's depths and passions, but Nixon's analysis also excitingly reanimates both feminist and psychoanalytic criticism. A tour de force.”
Anne Wagner, Department of History of Art, University of California, Berkeley
“Elegantly written and beautifully argued, Fantastic Reality investigates the art of Louise Bourgeois through the lens of psychoanalytic theory. Nixon is equally attuned to the formal texture of language and the psychic dimensions of modern and contemporary art. As a result, her book is not only marvelous art history—it’s a marvelous read.”
Richard Meyer, University of Southern California, author of Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art
“This exceptionally intelligent and illuminating study describes the art of Louis Bourgeois as a practice that has both drawn on and significantly expanded the psychoanalytic account of subjectivity. Attentive to Bourgeois's aesthetic as well as theoretical innovations, Nixon makes a convincing case for the artist as the key figure in the history of modern art, equal in consequence to Marcel Duchamp. Revealing some of the secrets of Bourgeois's intriguing art, the book offers a critical analysis that matches the exquisite complexity and elegant wit of its object.”
Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University