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C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

To Martin Elsasser

Dear Professor Elsasser, 28 January 1937

It was a great pleasure to hear from you again.

Ende’s pictures1 are interesting but largely uninterpretable because they do not, as Goethe wants, refer to something universal
but to a universality that is hidden behind something unique and personal.

For Ende the symbolic figure is essentially only an aesthetic problem which he flunks.

The point is, as I have often found with artists, that they go chasing after the striking form but not the meaningful one.

Thus the figure of the old philosopher could just as well be a pole or a bird or a triangle or anything else.

It is painfully apparent in the pictures that the painter is standing before closed doors through which, admittedly, a ray of light
falls, but crookedly.

This is the sickness of our modem artists, that they only paint or draw and reckon it a virtue to do anything rather than think,
unlike the great artists of the Renaissance.

I have always found it very difficult to discuss these problems with an artist, whereas I could have learnt a lot from Mantegna.

The greatness of the Renaissance artist lies not least in the fact that he worked with the whole of his personality, while the
artist of today assiduously avoids anything meaningful.

I thank you very much for your letter and wish you all the best.

With greetings also to your wife,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Pages 249-250