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Keywords:

  • art-making process;
  • art world values;
  • manic defences;
  • mediatory product;
  • symbolic attitude

Using two clinical examples, this essay examines how twentieth century aesthetics has created a cultural context that works against the symbolic function of the art-making process in artists' lives. The pursuit of art, restricted to serving aesthetic ends, overexposes artists to the creative unconscious unmediated by human connection and thereby abandons them to cycles of narcissistic inflation and despair. In seeking an alternative, Jung's description of the symbolic function provides the basis for engaging the art-making process within analysis as one way to mediate the destructive and creative dynamics often dominating the lives of artists.