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Johannes A. Gaertner (1912-1996) was born in Berlin, Germany,  A poet, author, artist, professor of art history, he earned a Doctorate in Theology from Heidelberg University in 1936. With a dissertation on Johann Gottfried Herder's position on Christian art, his intent was to concentrate on early Christian archaeology.

To avoid conscription, he left Berlin for Lima, Peru, where he intended to spend a year ... that became ten. In 1941 he met and married fashion designer Gerda Meyer.  They came to New York in 1946, and in the manner of Einstein, Nobokov, and other émigré eggheads, he obtained a position at Lafayette College, at that time an all-male bastion of engineering and science. Johannes Gaertner "became" the Humanities, teaching German, French, Spanish, Latin, and Art and Music Appreciation.

As Lafayette grew, foreign languages and music peeled off.  In 1955 Gaertner founded and for decades was the Department of Art History.  Legions of his students have remembered him in testimonials, recalling both his passion for the subject matter and his lovable eccentricities. (A tissue box was placed on the corner of his desk on

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the first day of class with the admonition that students were not to sniffle and snort but to come up and get a tissue if they needed one; for some reason this has stuck in the mind of many). One of his students went on to chair the department of Art History at Yale, another became director of the Art Museum in Melbourne, Australia.

In addition to articles on aesthetics, art history, archaeology, philosophy, and current events, Gaertner authored several volumes of Latin and German poetry as well as Prisma der Demokratie, a book in German on American art, and Worldly Wisdom; A Catalogue of Reflections, published by his daughter.

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