Lane Faison

Lane Faison:

A great teacher, he taught in his own distinctive way. Lane swept the boards with his grad school teaching at Yale and Princeton and then later at Williams. The Williams grad degree in Art History didn’t exist before him. He helped bring over Henri Focillon, a famous art historian from France, who influenced Faison and many others and is still highly regarded. Lane translated him into English.

A lot of talented people were trained by him including Kirk Varnedoe, ‘67. Faison was from Savannah and his wife was a friend of Varnedoe’s mother there and she pressed for Kirk to go to Williams. Kirk agreed because he knew he could make the football team there. Later, everyone in the world thought Varnedoe was the greatest thing that had ever happened. Lane said he’d give him a B+.

I was close to Lane. I had him down to Western Carolina University where I taught Art History. One of his lectures was about his wartime work as a “Monuments Man” with Navy Intelligence and his excitement upon finding the Ghent Altarpiece in very cold salt mine. Faison could converse equally easily with exalted scholars, restrained connoisseurs and collectors, ordinary working people, and, most happily, his students.

James P. W. Thompson

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