Professor Emeritus Pavel Machotka dies at 82

Pavel Machotka
Pavel Machotka

Pavel Machotka, professor emeritus of psychology, died March 18 at the age of 82. The cause of death was complications from a stroke he suffered in July 2017.

Machotka, who joined the faculty in 1970 and retired in 1994, was a leading scholar in the field of the psychology of aesthetics. His lifelong focus was the French painter Paul Cézanne; he published two books about the artist, and lectured widely about the man and his working methods.

A painter himself, Machotka established an aesthetics studies major at UCSC. He served as provost of Porter College when it was known as College Five, and served as chair of the Psychology Department and of the Academic Senate in 1992-94. After retiring, Pavel and his wife, Nina, moved to Italy. 

In 2015, Machotka won the 2015 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award that honors UC emeriti professors in the humanities and social sciences. He returned to campus to deliver a talk entitled, "Psychology and Art, and the Case of Cézanne."

Machotka was born in Prague in 1936 shortly before the Nazi invasion. He fled Czechoslovakia with his family in 1948 after the Soviet communists took over. He attended the University of Chicago at age 16, where he first saw a Cézanne painting. He earned his Ph.D. at Harvard.