Symbolism in Art: The Apple

By Dirk Vanduffel - Thursday, July 28, 2016
Symbolism in Art: The Apple

The image of the apple can signify love, wisdom, and death. Within the religious context of Christianity, it means temptation and original sin. In Norse mythology, as in the Greek, apples grant immortality. The apple is also associated (like other fruits and flowers) with a woman’s anatomy.

Symbolism in Art: The Apple

The image of the apple can signify love, wisdom, and death. Within the religious context of Christianity, it means temptation and original sin. In Norse mythology, as in the Greek, apples grant immortality. The apple is also associated (like other fruits and flowers) with a woman’s anatomy. 

In John Currin’s work, Maenads (2015), the red fruit’s wanton symbolism cannot be overlooked. The two apples appear shinning with sweetness, mirroring the tempting sensuality - the ripe youthfulness - of the three characters in the painting. Currin is known for his portrayal of eroticised subjects. His manner emphasises the sexuality of his subjects to the point of perversity (think oversized busts and guts sticking out), whilst balancing the grotesquerie with the softness of his palette. The artist utilises settings that are reminiscent of 16th and 17th century Northern European painting style, whilst his characters strike the poses of pin up models. 

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