I just received the sad news that Professor Peter Porcal died last week. Peter was an art historian who I had the pleasure of studying under when I did my undergraduate in Florence. He was a puckish, charming, cynical and sweet man, and like most of his students, I loved him.
Peter was a great storyteller, and I often think of him when looking at pompous work that makes claims towards gravitas but doesn’t deliver the goods. Every one of his students will have their favorite story, but here are some of mine:
Peter: What did you think of her talk?
Me: (Straining to be tactful)… well, she uh…
Peter: Bullshit! She just talks! Do you know, many years ago I did have a student here who was a professional hockey player, and he was very good and had even played with Gretzky on the Oilers. His problem was he could skate very fast, but could never keep hold of the… what do you call it? The pooch?
Peter: Yes! And this is her: lots of flash, but in the end there is nothing.
“Too much love and too much money spoils anything.”
“Guard it like you would the eye in your head”
If this wasn’t enough, he bought a few of my paintings, and when I told him the price he pinched my cheek, said “no this is too little” and literally threw a 50 Euro note into my breast pocket. This was before I had started showing, and the little gesture meant a lot to me.
I miss him already.