Parnassus Abolished

Parnassus 9, no. 5 (October 1937)

In October of 1940, College Art Association (CAA) President Ulrich Middeldorf declared the institution’s journal Parnassus “rejuvenated,” but the following May readers learned that the journal had been abolished.1 This essay explores Parnassus’s brief revival under the editorship of art historian Lester Longman. Formulating the journal as a new vehicle by which to generate “a better American art at the center of a wiser pedagogy,” Longman argued for a new educational model that would integrate CAA’s art historian and artist members in a shared project of creative education.2 Longman had already done just this at the State University of Iowa in 1938, combining a Department of Art History with one of Graphic and Plastic Arts into a single Department of Art. Through Parnassus, he urged all art historians to participate actively in studio art programs in order to improve the nation’s art production. Longman also called on art historians and studio artists to improve their pedagogy by envisioning art education as a broad training ground for discerning citizens, who would protect the nation’s democracy.

Longman linked art and citizenship in Parnassus during a historical moment marked both by unprecedented federal arts funding under the New Deal and increasing national anxiety over the rise of fascism in Europe. However, Longman’s agenda of combining art history and studio art managed to offend both art historians and artists. Under his editorship Parnassus became an intervention in CAA that exposed the obstacles to uniting artists and art historians in U.S. higher education.3 Indeed, when CAA’s Board of Directors decided to eliminate the journal, they did so by radically redefining the goals of their association as “the teaching of the history, analysis, and interpretation, rather than the creation, of art.”4 Thus, Longman’s journal accomplished precisely the opposite of what he had hoped, driving artists and art historians further apart. Nonetheless, in its short life Longman’s Parnassus imagined innovative ways art historians could use their unique position in American higher education to improve the quality of the nation’s art and its citizens. Operating as the lynchpin between humanists and artists, thinkers and makers, Longman envisioned art historians teaching methods of critical judgment that would act as the foundation for their students’ future actions in and outside the classroom.

The Parnassus that Longman inherited in October of 1940 had been founded in 1929. The journal, which took its name from the mountain home of the Muses in classical Greek mythology, published short articles on a variety of art historical subjects. As art historian Craig Houser has recently noted, Parnassus was distinguished largely by being CAA’s “second journal,” subsidiary to the Art Bulletin, which began publication in 1913 almost coincident with the organization’s founding.5 Indeed, in 1940, for example, Middeldorf differentiated the two journals by noting Parnassus would not be devoted to the “scholarly questions” of Art Bulletin, but rather to “questions on art criticism and art education.”6 For many art historians the focus on education rather than scholarship made Parnassus the lesser journal. However, Longman suggested that it was precisely this emphasis that made Parnassus the more important of the two. In his editorials, Longman aimed to elevate education by positioning it as a central motivator for scholarship, rather than the inverse. He called for art research, practice, and pedagogy that would be creative and value-driven rather than devoted to arcane facts and mechanical techniques. Identifying the coming decade as one of profound importance for the future of both the liberal and visual arts, Longman called for all CAA’s members to unite as educators, teaching critical thinking and creativity as an active American response to the threats of fascism in Europe.

Linking better national art, politics, and pedagogy, Longman set out to reimagine the structure and goals of art education. His Parnassus was full of examples. The first issue included the following: an appraisal of university art programs by Stephen C. Pepper, philosopher and chair of Art Practice at the University of California; a profile of American Scene painter Fletcher Martin, whom Longman had hired to teach at Iowa; a review of work by a “talented art student” from Iowa; and a survey of the Art History department at the University of Chicago. Future issues included additional department surveys and artist’s profiles, extensive correspondence sections, open forums, instructional articles devoted to specific art techniques, and even a chart of upcoming art exhibition entry dates designed to be clipped to an art studio door. Under Longman, the journal’s topics ranged widely across modern American art and pedagogy, but the contributions shared an ethos well summarized by Fletcher Martin’s teaching philosophy, as published in the inaugural issue: “What I try to teach is not how to hold a brush, but an attitude–an attitude of skepticism about what I might say or what others have said, not a quibbling attitude but a seeking, inquisitive and down-to-earth point of view.”7 Martin avowed that he taught a way of reacting to the world, a practical dubiousness that implicitly prepared students to resist persuasion by dictators, fascists, or communists. Fundamentally the art and art history programs, as well as the individual authors and profile subjects featured in Parnassus, accorded with Longman’s shift to teaching values and creativity, instilling a kind of ethical attitude rather than technical or factual knowledge.8

Within the pages of Parnassus, Longman often seems to use “creative” as a vague description of anything he viewed positively. However, in a 1938 speech, the art historian clarified the term by arguing that true contributions to any field were always creative, relying on some new, personal, imaginative insight based on prior research. He also contrasted the differing approaches to creativity offered by “conservative” and “progressive” educators. Longman argued that the conservative educator took a long view, assuming students would “postpone creative activity” until they had “time to absorb the legacy of the past” and make something “really worthwhile.” The progressive instead took inspiration from the recent ideas of philosopher and reformer John Dewey, starting with creative expression as part of a pragmatic “student centered plan” that encouraged the blossoming of every student “even though he may become an ugly flower.” The conservative “distinguish[ed] sharply between thinking and doing,” while the progressive viewed such a distinction as “silly,” arguing instead that “{e}verybody can and should be taught to do something well.” Whereas the conservative championed a liberal arts education that centered on a scientific search for truth, the progressive focused on the fine arts to teach a “philosophy of learning by doing.” The conservative intended to preserve “the good in the past” of “European civilization” through a disciplined, scientific search of the humanities for truth, while the progressive aimed “to create a new and unique American culture” through the kind of learning-by-doing epitomized by art.9

Precisely where art history should fall between the humanities and the arts was an important open question among art historians in the U.S. during the late 1930s. In 1938, German émigré art historian Erwin Panofsky positioned “The History of Art as a Humanistic Discipline,” using the phrase as the title of his essay and arguing art historians pursued the “vita contemplativa” because “{t}o grasp reality we have to detach ourselves from the present.”10 Longman was more reluctant to distance the discipline from questions of the present. Instead of allying art history exclusively with the humanities, Longman sketched the two poles of U.S. education in the 1930s in order to imply the discipline might play a unique central role as mediator. In the United States, Ohio-born, Princeton-trained Longman suggested, art history could become newly relevant and strategically powerful in higher education by operating between conservatives’ search for civilization’s truths in traditional academic disciplines (the sciences and humanities) and progressives’ focus on a national culture of doing built through artistic practice.

Longman cautioned that, although pragmatist educational innovations seemed democratizing, the “ad hoc character of this progressive education easily lends itself to propaganda.” Teaching students quickly “to do something,” progressive education failed in “stiffening the backbone of the masses to evaluate propaganda.” Instead, he warned, “[a]ll life becomes an applied art and all minds become uncritical, but trained in doing something which fits the picture.”11 In this critique, Longman’s cautionary description of progressive education resonates with Clement Greenberg’s better-known 1939 essay, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” which attacked kitsch as a “predigested” form that offered a “short cut to the pleasure of art.”12 Greenberg argued that in pretending to demand nothing from its viewers, “not even their time,” kitsch appeared to democratize the experience of art but actually substituted a kind of “demagogy” as evidenced in the official cultures of Germany and Russia.13 Longman identified American progressive education with strategies similar to those used by fascists and communists who destroyed the liberal arts by conflating them with vocational training. Teaching everyone only the skills necessary to become employed and “fill a niche in the current social order,” progressive educators unintentionally joined with fascists and communists by eliminating critical thinking and “promot{ing} slavery in the final analysis.” Surprisingly, Longman did not call for a return to conservative ideals of liberal arts or for the creation of an avant-garde educational theory. In spite of his strong warning, Longman advocated a path between progressives and conservatives, which he saw himself paving at Iowa by combining robust programs of art history and studio art.

In the pages of Parnassus, Longman identified 1940 as a precarious moment for art and democracy in the United States. An increasing number of Americans were interested in art thanks to federal projects of the 1930s and popular press coverage, but these viewers knew “very little as yet about esthetic value in the visual arts, and most of them frankly admit it.” Without education, Longman posited it inevitable that most people would favor “reactionary art.” He pointed out that American businessmen disliked Hitler and Stalin’s politics, but without art education they still enjoyed the same “sentimental, popular, photographic, propagandistic drivel, glorifying sunsets, forests, naked Aryans, big families, popular heroes, {and} homely scenes.” Longman defined this “commu-nazi” genre as an international style that appeared anywhere people lacked aesthetic knowledge. Connecting “true art” and “true democracy,” Longman asserted that the “defenders” of both needed to “attack” their opponents with education that would enable critical judgment.14 Longman did not distinguish between conservative and progressive educators within Parnassus, but instead articulated his plans for the middle ground between the two. He called for a union of art historians and artists that would teach students an attitude of critical thinking, which would in turn act as the basis for doing. This new American art history combined with studio art practice would preserve the values of European civilization while establishing a robust democratic American culture.

Longman used Parnassus to advocate a uniquely American approach to art history, but his German colleagues proved skeptical of conscripting history to the art and politics of the present. A letter published in Parnassus by Edgar Breitenbach, for example, critiqued Longman’s basic idea by arguing that the combination of art and art history represented a peculiar American anomaly. Breitenbach pointed out to readers that Europeans, or at least those “accustomed to European universities,” felt it odd that “in the majority of American institutions, art history is incorporated in an art department.” Breitenbach, who had arrived in the United States in 1937, allowed that this structure might have “its justification and its great value,” but nevertheless asked “whether through this union a major function of art history is not underestimated or neglected?”15 A deep disagreement about the work of art historians and artists rested in this civil rhetorical question. Although they disagreed on its advantageousness, both scholars acknowledged something important and distinctly American about the institutional union of art and art history. Breitenbach allied himself with Longman’s conservative educators and suggested that a union with studio art conscripted art history to the service of art making in the present, inevitably voiding the discipline’s responsibility to thinking though the past. Longman, in contrast, hoped American art history could use its position as a scientific discipline fundamentally linked to art in order to bridge educational cultures of thinking and doing, solving the shortcomings of both by combining them. While Breitenbach saw America’s educational structure as a national quirk that impeded American art history from flourishing as a liberal art, Longman viewed the same structure as potentially generative of a new, better art and art history in the United States.

Longman attempted to use Parnassus as a platform to advocate institutional structures that would bring teaching artists and art historians into one collaborative educational community. In a Parnassus editorial entitled “On the Uses of Art History,” Longman outlined the four major existing types of art departments in the United States: one offered only art history; another offered only art, operating as “an art institute transplanted to a university campus”; a third emphasized art history while offering “elementary work in drawing and painting”; and a fourth “infrequent” type consisted of “respectable” art history and “accomplished” studio art programs “conjoined” but not “integrated.” He then called for a fifth type that would truly synthesize the contributions of art historians and artists. In this new department, aesthetics and art history would be “taught by competent scholars with the primary purpose of inspiring potential young artists, of enkindling their imaginations and vanquishing their prejudices and bigotry.”16 Longman clarified that he did not intend art history to become “a clever parade of ‘tips for artists’.”17 Speculating comparatively on how boring a discipline economics would be if scholars let businessmen lead the way, Longman gave art historians permission to critique artists of the past and present by attacking those “sad” educators who believed “artists themselves must lead the way, while they may only follow and interpret.”18 With the cooperation of scholars and studio teachers, he wrote, students would finally learn “creative art rather than practical artisanship.”19 Longman’s intervention of combining art practice and art history aimed to teach an attitude of critical thinking as the foundation for doing, enabling students to make their own breakthroughs rather than replicating the techniques of their studio teachers. Stephen Pepper agreed with Longman’s premise in his own Parnassus article, advocating that university studio art training be considered a dispersed “fan” involving many different professors, rather than a “pyramid” built on just one teacher. Art historians would improve studio art by providing artists more influences from which to build their own work, while artists would improve art history by forcing art historians to recognize their scholarship as an active force in the present.

Although Parnassus featured many different institutions, departments, and artists, Longman’s praise for an integrated department and a profile of promising Iowa art student Don Anderson in the first issue implicitly directed readers to its editor’s own program at Iowa. In fact, Longman’s vision of art historians improving art education by making it creative (rather than manual apprenticeship) lead to a massive dispute with Iowa painting professor and Regionalist painter Grant Wood.20 Department memos by Longman object to awarding students academic credit for work on Wood’s commissions. Longman cautioned that such painting seemed commercial rather than educational, involving too much doing and too little thinking. Longman complained to university administrators that Wood taught as if in an atelier rather than a university, while Wood in turn dismissed any art historian’s capacity to judge studio instruction at all. When Wood took a leave of absence from teaching in 1940, Longman hired Fletcher Martin to replace him. As noted earlier, Martin believed that his pedagogy encouraged an ethical, engaged attitude in his students. After a semester at Iowa, Martin told his New York friends that he had discovered that Wood used what he deemed to be unethical, excessively commercial painting and teaching methods, including the tracing of projected photographs.21 These rumors of Wood’s unscrupulous techniques drew an investigative reporter from Life magazine to Iowa in November of 1940, just a month after the first issue of Longman’s Parnassus appeared, and embroiled the department in a battle that continued even after Grant Wood’s death in 1942.22 Longman’s editorials never mentioned the problems and scandal he experienced as Iowa’s department chair.23 The pages of Parnassus operated as a venue to imagine the ideal scenario of artist and art historian in collaboration.

Longman positioned his new fifth type of collaborative department as an aid to the instruction of artists, but he also aimed to deeply rethink art history. He complained the discipline was marked by “a pedestrian accumulation of facts” that made it seem impractical especially outside of private East Coast colleges. Longman grumbled evocatively:

There is a surfeit of specialists who know all the ramifications of the problem of Giorgione, but stand mute before the problems of the artist today, who remain inarticulate when asked to judge a contemporary painter, who “know all about art but do not know what they like.”24

He located the “essential creativity” of art historical scholarship in its ability to teach students how to make their own “interpretive” aesthetic judgments.25 In both their teaching and research, Longman called on his art historian colleagues to emphasize “broader issues and fundamental problems” rather than “obscure periods and archeological minutiae,” and prioritize “values essentially” rather than “facts.”26 This, Longman acknowledged, would necessitate a sacrifice of “the scholar’s comfortable, Olympian objectivity.” Nonetheless, he argued art history would be made “useful” by tipping toward contemporary practice in order to teach “the student in such judgments as may become the foundation of action.”27 Drawing on the ideas of progressive education while attempting to mitigate the dangers of its presentism, Longman envisioned art history as a discipline that would teach a way of interpreting the world and would make critical thinking the basis of doing.

The precise measures Longman advocated to Parnassus’s readers remained rough and flexible. It is difficult to understand exactly what kind of art historical scholarship that Longman imagined would result from the shift in attitude he advocated. Educated as specialist in art of the Spanish quattrocento, Longman produced no historical scholarship of his own that might serve as our model, moving instead to write about contemporary art and art education.28 Longman’s Parnassus focused on changes to the ideals of art historical teaching, in keeping with the journal’s position as an alternative to the Art Bulletin’s focus on scholarship. However, even there, Longman’s editorials did not offer new curricula or many specific prescriptions beyond a new departmental structure. He abstractly and perhaps ambiguously urged his colleagues to change their pedagogical focus from generating more professional art historians to developing better artists and citizens. An art historical education would become useful by instilling in students a mode of critical thinking that Longman vaguely defined – a kind of inquisitive, skeptical attitude that would become the basis for looking and acting in the classroom, studio, and nation. Ultimately, Longman traced the impact of his educational plan beyond art students to the general public, calling for an art history that would “fire conviction in the minds of a hesitant, disturbed, and disillusioned society.”29 Under the guise of better education for artists within the university, Longman formulated a new model of art history that would teach a critical method for engaging with the world.

In an atmosphere saturated by Dewey’s educational theories of experience and action, Longman told his CAA colleagues that the “controlled fusion of informed thinking and productive activity” was the direction of most advanced pedagogy and thus the future of the discipline.30 Longman’s fifth type of combined art department thus aimed to preserve and adapt European humanism in America by emphasizing historical investigation as generative of a critical attitude for action. In 1940, Longman argued that objective contemplation of the past was no longer possible. As liberal culture vanished across Europe, according to Longman, Americans “faced the alternative of maintaining and cultivating it here, or instead taking satisfaction in the demise of a culture we never fully understood.” Any pedagogy had to derive from this choice. Longman favored a response to fascism and communism that championed an international humanism (rather than “praising indiscriminately all things American”), but he urged educators to recognize that they must “integrate the values and ideals of liberalism with the changed material and spiritual conditions of our time.” His idea of creative art history thus operated as a strategic program to “attack…the anti-intellectual forces” in Europe and America through “the sacrifice of an aloofness we can no longer afford.”31 In U.S. higher education of the 1940s, scholarship had to be engaged with the world. Longman considered his new fifth type of combined art and art history program as the best hope for art history, for there it would be most creative and useful to society; art history professors would educate artists and improve national art production, while also teaching the broader public to be more discerning.

A “Forum” section in Longman’s second issue of Parnassus hosted a debate on the journal’s proper function, including letters from readers with differing reactions. Art historian Meyer Schapiro encouraged Longman, agreeing, “we must do everything to overcome the onesidedness and narrowness of academic scholarship.” Nevertheless, Schapiro was disappointed by Parnassus’s first issue; he complained that whereas the magazine had “once looked like a dealer’s organ, now it seems to be a student’s monthly.” To remedy this situation the Columbia University professor suggested eliminating the essays about individual art students and specific departments.32 On the other hand, Midwest-based, American Scene painter Aaron Bohrod praised just these features, pointing out that “to many practicing artists the university art department has been a foreign and forbidding element.” Bohrod valued Parnassus because it introduced him and other artists to “the potentially vital functioning of the university art scheme.”33 Whereas Schapiro exemplified the art historian who took academe as his natural habitat, Bohrod who had studied at art schools in Chicago and New York saw the university as strange terrain.

After eight months, Directors of the College Art Association eliminated Longman’s Parnassus and made the decision that they did not want artist members like Bohrod at all. Publically professing a need to economize, they proclaimed “Parnassus Abolished” and replaced it with the smaller, unillustrated College Art Journal.34Explaining this choice and the one to continue publishing Art Bulletin unaltered, new CAA President, Yale professor Sumner McKnight Crosby, explained that the Directors had decided the organization’s “primary function is the support and promotion of the teaching of the history, analysis, and interpretation, rather than the creation, of art.” In addition to casting out artists, they urged an institutional repositioning of art history, concluding that “the history and criticism of art, since it reveals and interprets human values, finds its nearest educational kinship, not among the ateliers of creative art in our colleges, but among the other departments which serve the ends of a liberal, humanistic education: history, literature, and philosophy.”35 Several artist members involved in the decision wrote to protest and urge the Board to reconsider.36 Longman self-consciously identified himself as an art historian in his final comments and noted his dissent from the decision to transform CAA into “an art historical society” because, he wrote, “such an Association is one without imagination.”37 Here, Longman lamented the loss of CAA’s imaginative artist members, but also implicitly warned that by severing its affiliation to studio art American art history would lose the unique opportunity to imaginatively position itself as a vital intermediary between thinking and doing.

In the first volume of the new College Art Journal, Crosby backed away from an exclusive devotion to art historians. He asserted, “{t}here is no intention to limit discussion to problems concerning the history of art,” but that the journal rather aimed to facilitate a “fruitful collaboration between all teachers of art.”38 With this new agenda it would seem College Art Journal simply continued the work of Parnassus. Indeed, in 1944, College Art Journal published two statements, one “on the Place of the History of Art in the Liberal Arts Curriculum” and another “on the Practice of Art Courses,” each written by a separate CAA committee.39 However, far from a return to Longman’s educational model of united art historians and artists, CAA’s new journal and its two independent statements articulated a fundamental split.

More celebration generally accompanies a journal’s launch or reinvention than one’s demise, but both occasions reward study. The final eight months of Parnassus represent an alternative view of the ways in which artists and art historians could work together for a “better American art and a wiser pedagogy.” Longman believed that art historians had a responsibility to actively make contemporary culture and discerning citizens through education. His plans for a collaborative art and art history found little traction with his colleagues. Ultimately CAA shifted their support to an academic model that divided the humanities, including art history, from the teaching of art practice. In 1941, CAA’s leaders championed the preservation of humanist values and a scientific study of the past, rather than Longman’s plan to transform European humanist thinking as the basis for an action-oriented American future. The story of Longman’s Parnassus reveals two conflicting ideas on what constituted better American art and pedagogy in the early 1940s. While Longman viewed art and art history as two creative fields that would educate their students best when acting together, CAA divorced scholarship and practice, thinking and doing, as two fundamentally different types of knowledge that coexisted uncomfortably together in a single professional organization.

Regardless of whether we, as contemporary historians of American art, find our closest institutional allies in art or humanities departments (or somewhere else entirely), the short history of Longman’s Parnassus illuminates the stakes of reimagining academic publications, departmental structures and professional organizations. Indeed, Longman’s proposals in Parnassus still resonate. Postwar studio art education in the United States learned to teach the kind of “attitude” Longman and Martin envisioned as the basis for action painting and “better American art.”40 However, Parnassus’s legacy for American art historians is less clear. CAA has suggested disciplinary guidelines, but art historians in the United States now find themselves teaching in a wider variety of ways and places than ever before. The middle path Longman sketched for art historians in 1940s Parnassus – between conservative liberal art professors who wanted to preserve European civilization and progressive educators who imagined learning-by-doing as the basis of a new American culture – may still seem to us to trace the decline of art history, its descent into service. Looking back at Parnassus today, perhaps we can also admire the way Longman attempted to strategically reinvent art history in 1940s America in ways that may speak to our own moment. He located art history squarely at the educational center of the university with art historians acting as crucial interlocutors between thinkers and doers. Following from this, Longman also used Parnassus to position art history as a politically central bulwark for democracy, casting its students as inquisitive citizens, who would be skeptical of demagogues and willing to act against them. Longman failed to transform CAA, but is there anything we can learn from his Parnassus? Coming together in a journal during another era of American educational “crisis,” what are our own ambitions for our discipline?


PDF: Kroiz: Parnassus Abolished


  1. Ulrich Middeldorf, Untitled Introduction, Parnassus, Vol. 12, No. 6 (Oct., 1940): 35 and Sumner McKnight Crosby in “C.A.A. Policy Altered–Parnassus Abolished,” Parnassus, Vol. 13, No. 5 (May, 1941): 162.
  2. Lester Longman, “Editorial Comment,” Parnassus, Vol. 12, No. 6 (Oct., 1940): 4.
  3. Howard Singerman has written more about tensions in CAA’s history in his Art Subjects: Making Artists in the American University (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 11-22.
  4. Crosby, “C.A.A. Policy Altered–Parnassus Abolished,” 162.
  5. Craig Houser, “The Changing Face of Scholarly Publishing: CAA’s Publication Program,” The Eye, the Hand, the Mind: 100 Years of the College Art Association, Susan L. Ball, ed. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011), 68. Howard Singerman also provides an account of the history of Parnassus in “Art Journal at Fifty,” Art Journal, Winter 1991, Vol. 50, No. 4, web-only (accessed June 11, 2014).
  6. Middeldorf, Untitled Introduction, 35.
  7. Peyton Boswell, Jr., “Fletcher Martin Painter of Memories,” Parnassus, Vol. 12, No. 6 (Oct., 1940): 13.
  8. Even a detailed explanation of the lithography process, for example, was not framed as encouragement to master printers, but as guidance to stave off technical problems “discouraging to the beginner.” Emil Ganso and H. W. Janson, “The Technique of Lithographic Printing,” Parnassus, Vol. 12, No. 7 (Nov., 1940): 16.
  9. Underlined in original text. Lester Longman, “Arts in American Life,” delivered April 30, 1938 at Colorado College and Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, in Lester Longman Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.
  10. Edwin Panofsky, “The History of Art as a Humanistic Discipline,” The Meaning of the Humanities, ed. Theodore Meyer Greene (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1938), 114-116.
  11. Longman, “Arts in American Life.”
  12. Clement Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” (1939) in John O’Brian, ed., Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986), 1:16.
  13. Ibid., 12, 20.
  14. Longman, “Editorial Comment,” 5.
  15. Edgar Breitenbach, “On Editorials,” Parnassus, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Mar., 1941): 98-99.
  16. Longman offered the models of (1) only art history, (2) an emphasis on art history with basic studio work, (3) only studio work with basic humanities, and (4) two parallel departments of studio art and art history. Lester Longman, “On the Uses of Art History.” Parnassus, Vol. 12, No. 8 (Dec., 1940): 4.
  17. Lester Longman, “On Editorials,” Parnassus , Vol. 13, No. 3 (Mar., 1941): 99.
  18. Lester Longman, “On the Responsibility to Educate,” Parnassus, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Jan., 1941): 5.
  19. Longman, “On the Uses of Art History,” 4.
  20. This dispute forms a section of my current book project on Regionalist pedagogies in the 1930s and 1940s. Wanda Corn and Joni L. Kinsey provide accounts of the argument and ensuing controversies, Wanda Corn, Grant Wood: The Regionalist Vision (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), 56-60 and Joni Kinsey, “Cultivating Iowa: An Introduction to Grant Wood,” Grant Wood’s Studio: Birthplace of American Gothic, Jane C. Milosch, ed. (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art; Munich; New York: Prestel, 2005), 29-32.
  21. R. Trip Evans has drawn attention to an interview with Wood’s photographer during the late 1930s, Ruth McCuskley Weller. Evans considers Weller’s recollections in hopes of identifying the model for Wood’s male nude Sultry Night. I consider Wood’s use of photography (which the interview reveals the painter attempted to keep secret in the period) and Longman’s accusations that such an uncritical manual method of execution would produce commercial products rather than art. R. Trip Evans, Grant Wood: A Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), 363 n. 257 and Mary Bennett, interview with Ruth McCuskey Weller, 1 September 1993, State Historical Society of Iowa Special Collections.
  22. Kinsey, for example, notes that Longman sent University administrators unflattering reviews of Wood’s posthumous retrospective. Kinsey, “Cultivating Iowa,” 31.
  23. Kinsey quotes Longman’s Parnassus editorials several times implying that their criticisms aimed to discredit Wood, but the painter was never specifically named. Kinsey, “Cultivating Iowa,” 29-32. Longman discussed Wood briefly and sympathetically in an address published in Parnassus before he became the editor. Lester Longman, “Art Education in the University. Reprinted in Full from the Session on Education at the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Meeting of the College Art Association,” Parnassus, Vol. 8, No. 5 (Oct., 1936): 24.
  24. Longman, “On the Uses of Art History,” 5.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Longman, “On Editorials,” 99.
  27. Longman, “On the Uses of Art History,” 4. In a subsequent editorial, Longman expanded on the many realms of creativity; the “mental process” of building something greater than the sum of its parts characterized all instances of creativity. Thus, Longman explained, “Adolf Hitler by his operations to date has proven himself an artist in government administration, though we may not like his style.” He explained that even “the college president, in the event that his activities on behalf of his institution results in a whole greater than the sum of its parts, is as much an artist as he who employs another medium and exhibits the consequences in a frame.” Lester Longman, “The Art Critic,” Parnassus, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Feb., 1941): 53-54.
  28. Before completing his dissertation, Longman published a lengthy iconographic reading that attempted to determine a textile’s provenance. Lester Longman, “Two Fragments of an Early Textile in the Museo Cristiano,” Art Bulletin, Vol. 12, No. 2 (June 1930): 113-130. Longman’s dissertation at Princeton in 1934 was entitled “Jacomart Baco and Johan Rexach: a Study of Valencian Painting in the Quattrocento.” Following this text his limited published scholarship focused on approaches to contemporary art, including: Lester Longman, “Contemporary Painting,” Journal Of Aesthetics & Art Criticism 3, no. 9 (January 1944): 8-18 and Lester Longman, “Education: Can Colleges Create Artists?,” Arts Digest 28 (September 1954): 18-19.
  29. Longman, “On Editorial Comment,” 99.
  30. All quotations in this paragraph, Longman, “On the Uses of Art History,”4-5.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Longman responded by pointing out that Parnassus was addressed to “art teachers as a whole” not “advanced scholars,” which differentiated the journal from Art Bulletin.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Craig Houser provides further information on the economic impact of these changes. Houser, 75.
  35. Crosby in “CAA Policy Altered–Parnassus Abolished,” 162. In his history, Houser points out by “such a declaration was not in keeping with the bylaws of CAA from the beginning or at that time.” Houser, 74.
  36. John Alford resigned as a Director of CAA in a letter published in Parnassus’s final issue. Clarence Ward, Head of Department of Fine Arts at Oberlin, and Stephen C. Pepper, Chair of Art Practice at University of California, Berkeley also wrote letters of protest against the Board’s decision that were published in the final issue of Parnassus as part of the section “C.A.A. Policy Altered. Parnassus Abolished,” Parnassus, Vol. 13, No. 5 (May, 1941): 162-163.
  37. Lester Longman in “C.A.A. Policy Altered. Parnassus Abolished,” 163.
  38. Sumner McKnight Crosby, College Art Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Nov., 1941), 2.
  39. “A Statement on the Place of the History of Art in the Liberal Arts Curriculum,” College Art Journal, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Mar., 1944), 82-87 and “A Statement on the Practice of Art Courses,” College Art Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Nov., 1944), 33-38.
  40. Howard Singerman, for example, focuses on the 1950s to analyze the ways Abstract Expressionism figured the “the artist as liberal artist,” teaching, learning, and communicating attitude rather than skill. Singerman, Art Subjects, 126.

About the Author(s): Lauren Kroiz is at the University of California, Berkeley