S. Lane Faison (November 16, 1907 – November 11, 2006) was an art history professor at Williams College. Faison headed the art history department at Williams from 1940 to 1969 and remained on the full-time faculty until 1976. Several of his students went on to direct major museums including Earl A. Powell III of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, Glenn D. Lowry of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Thomas Krens of the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
He was himself trained at Williams by Karl E. Weston, who inspired an earlier generation of art scholars in the 1920s.
Mr. Faison was a Navy Reservist during World War II. In 1945 he was posted to the Office of Strategic Services' Art Looting Investigation Unit. He wrote the official report on Adolf Hitler's collection of stolen art. Five years later, he supervised the return of stolen art under the direction of the Department of State.
In 2004 the following quote appeared in the New York Times:
I always stressed two things. One has to do with the connection of art to history, with the fact that every work of art was done somewhere and some when, and that this is very important to understand. The other side has to do with the medium of art, which is quite different from the subject. What we're talking about is color and shape. You'd be surprised at the number of people who come to Williams, and I think this is generally true of American students, with absolutely no idea of what the word 'shape' means or what you can do with it and why it's important. They have easily mastered the medium of language, but many of them know very little about the medium of art.
S. Lane Faison died on November 11, 2006 in Williamstown, Massachusetts five days shy of his 99th birthday.
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