Visual communications; Exercise 1 What does this apple mean?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes an apple is just an apple, but not when it appears symbolically as a communication tool. Looking at a range of images across the ages, it seems that an apple can be a signifier of health, death, beauty, evil, fertility and love.

apple dali
Most famously the apple is the forbidden fruit from the Judeo- Christian mythology of Adam and Eve.  Images of Eve offering the forbidden fruit to Adam were popular themes for artists. The image here is a bronze sculpture by Salvador Dali with the serpent creating a wonderful heart shape.

 

I found out recently that the Latin word for apple and the Latin word for evil are the same – malum. So an apple can be evil? Although the apple was from Tree Of Knowledge, it has come to represent temptation of a more sexual kind. The serpent is an obvious phallic symbol encouraging the young couple, lest there be any doubt.
Apples have been seen as a health-giving fruit and “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” could contribute to the idea of beauty. Round rosy cheeks were likened to rosy apples. And then there was the jealous wicked step-mother who tried to poison Snow White with a round rosy apple.

Monna Pomona 1864 Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882 Presented by Alfred A. de Pass 1910 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02685

Monna Pomona 1864 Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882 Presented by Alfred A. de Pass 1910 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02685

apple advert
Perhaps because of the range of symbolism, the apple can represent wholeness – good and evil, health and death. However, in most images it seems to signify sexual temptation and loss of innocence.

 

In the Apple computer advert once again there is the rosy apple, and in Rossetti’s  painting of Monna Pomona the apple is held against the breast in a gesture of temptation. It seems that overtly or covertly, the apple has become a powerful signifier of the most primitive urge.

Bibliography

Adam and Eve

https://www.artsy.net/artwork/salvador-dali-adam-and-eve#!

Apple image
http://www.computerhistory.org/collections/catalog/102637933

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s