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Monday, November 13, 2006

Nazi Art Liberator Passes Away, aged 98

S. Lane Faison, professor who oversaw return of art looted by Nazis, dies at 98
The Associated Press
Published: November 12, 2006
WILLIAMSTOWN, Massachusetts: S. Lane Faison Jr., a professor who oversaw the return of art stolen by Nazis after World War II, has died, according to the president of the university where he taught. Faison was 98.

Faison died on Saturday at his Williamstown home, Williams College president Morton Owen Schapiro said Sunday. The cause of death was not immediately known. There was no answer at Faison's home phone.

A Navy Reservist during WWII, Faison was transferred in 1945 to the U.S. Office of Strategic Services as a member of the Art Looting Investigation Unit. He wrote the official report on the creation of Adolf Hitler's stolen art collection. Five years later, the U.S. State Department appointed him to supervise the return of stolen art.

At Williams College, Faison was the art department chair from 1940 to 1969, taught until 1976 and directed the Williams College Museum of Art from 1948 to 1976. His essays appeared in The New York Times and Saturday Review. In the early 1950s he wrote art and book reviews for The Nation.

Schapiro called Faison "a sharp intellectual, an inspired and inspiring teacher, an able administrator, an incisive writer, a person of natural warmth and wit, and a mentor whose legacy will forever spread far and wide through the countless students he turned on to art."

Among those who studied under Faison and Williams colleagues Whitney S. Stoddard and William H. Pierson were Thomas Krens, director of the Guggenheim Foundation, Glenn D. Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art, and Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art.

Faison, who retired in 1976, remained active on campus by visiting galleries and giving presentations until just a few months ago, according to the college's statement Sunday. Faison graduated from Williams College in 1929, and he also received graduate degrees from Harvard and Princeton.

Faison's wife, Virginia Gordon Weed, died in 1997. He is survived by sons Gordon, George, Christopher, and Samson; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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