It occurred thanks to that young Wellesley instructor, who in the 1926-27 academic year began teaching an extraordinary seminar to the daughters of New England’s wealthy families at Wellesley College. Barr was still just a graduate student at Harvard at the time, but the inventive thinking about art that he championed in his course—with an emphasis on bridging the gaps between high and low culture—would shortly explode in influence when he was hired by the new Museum of Modern Art in New York. And his class, small as it was, launched a generation of his students into prominent roles in the art world, helping to spread the gospel of contemporary art as curators, journalists, and critics. (…)
Given how small his Wellesley classes were, a striking proportion of his students also became influential figures. Helen Franc began at MoMA as an editorial assistant and rose to be a senior editor in its publications department; Ernestine Fantl worked as an assistant to Philip Johnson in the architectural division, became a curator herself, and crossed the Atlantic to become style editor of the (London) Sunday Times. Katharine Sterne became an art reviewer for The New York Times.