Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Sacred and Profane by Joseph Mann

  • Title: Sacred and Profane
  • Artist: Joseph Mann
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Size: 29 " h x 23" w
  • Added to collection: 2004
  • Donor: Purchased by Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus
  • Campus: Rock Creek
  • Location: B9/2 Library

Joseph Mann has been painting the subject of two or more silhouetted figures in shallow space for years.  These paintings often have a similar palette (red, yellow, black, white) and a similar paint handling (thick, gestural).  Yet the power of limits can set an artist free: consider this and the two other examples in the collection ("Conversation," "Man and Woman") and how such a restricted format  allows for expansion rather than repetition: the plastic inventions of each image are subtly different as are the dynamics of the figures themselves.  Mann was a student of the artist Leland Bell, who also was drawn to the subject of the shallow space with standing figures, though Mann's work is more somber and painterly.  The title ("Sacred and Profane") where one figure is nude and the other clothed is a reference to a Renaissance subject most famously painted by Titian ("Sacred and Profane Love") with its nude figure generally believed to represent purity and holiness and the clothed figure representing more earthly concerns.