Points of View

Views on Art

Religion

Fontaine did not commit himself to any formal religion. In Guadalajara he had found contentment with a small fellowship of Unitarians, and liked their credo which is all encompassing. “Mindful of the brotherhood of all mankind, we gather in the freedom of the path for the contemplation and understanding of our universe.” They do not believe in the Trinity – just in God, and Jesus as the Son of God. Paul differed from this still and after listening to lectures on Judaism, where they had expressed their view of Jesus as only being a spiritual leader in his time like many others, he differed all the more. Fontaine was an agnostic and had narrowed down his beliefs to Darwin’s theory of the evolution. He did not believe in an after-life. For him, Man is a part of Nature and the highest form of life and Nature eliminates those who cannot survive in their environment. He based all his beliefs on direct experience- and knowledge. All he knew is that he needed take care of his body and not abuse it if he wanted to survive a little longer.

Humor

Paul’s sense of humor was appreciated and endorsed. His conversations were permeated with irony and smiles. Lots of hand waving. He was a skilled and engaging conversationalist because he was genuinely curious and took the time to learn about a person’s life and interests.

Discussion Groups

While in Guadalajara Fontaine belonged to an exclusive discussion group of eight men, who called themselves, “the brain trust.” He has given talks on such divergent subjects as “Picasso” and “Energy.” Later he joined a “Great Decisions” group of Foreign Policy Associations. One can easily conclude that Fontaine was a humanist and practiced active humanism. His public interests were in the real world about him, while his creative instincts produced his private, world of non-objective paintings.

Frugality

Paul was renowned for his sense of frugality. For example he didn’t believe in hotels, so the family camped wherever they traveled or stayed with friends. That included camping in the middle of Paris, spending 6 months in a tent in Guadalajara before moving to a shack and of course never eating in restaurants unless forced to. He saved and invested all he had. He bought all his art supplies at hardware stores, made his own stretchers and frames and was loyal to the VW bug and van.

Remarks by Leon Hovsepian regarding Paul’s sense of Frugality during their years at Yale

“Paul and I rented a room in Harlem, NY – (125th St.).
We made sandwiches in a brown bag to save time as we consecutively visited museums down Manhattan. Lunch hour caught us under an elevated train trestle, leaning against a trestle post, we began eating our sandwiches. We noticed across the way a chauffeur and a fireman at a firebarn, looking at us and seemed to be talking about us. Finally the chauffeur walked over and said, “You look like decent fellows, not bums, here take this money and get yourselves some coffee.” We were flabbergasted. We laughed and said “no, no, we are not destitute!” He said, “Make me feel better and take it anyway.”

So, you see what might be perceived as frugality was only prudent planning.”

Health

Since his early days in art school he was aware of the importance of good food and exercise for health. In the 60’s he made his own yogurt and ate salads for lunch. He switched his starches to rice and ate little meat. His cache of vitamins was legendary. He read all of Linus Pauling’s works on vitamin C and Adele Davis’ works on nutrition. He played tennis at least 5 times a week. His weaknesses were sweets and peanuts. And he also could never refuse a good piece of apple pie with ice cream and cheddar cheese. His father had died in his forties from a massive heart attack, so the threat was always there. Through his healthy living and good medicine he managed to avoid a triple bypass until the age of 75, and a heart valve transplant at 78.