Director of the Walker Art Center 1951-1961; wrote a popular survey of modern art. Arnason was born to Sveinbjorn and Maria Bjarnadottir (Arnason), Icelandic immigrants to Canada. He attended the University of Manitoba for two years (1925-1927) before immigrating to the United States. There he attended Northwestern University, achieving his B.S. in 1931. In 1936 he married Elizabeth Hickox Yard and taught as an instructor. After gaining his A.M. in 1937, Arnason continued to study art at Princeton University where he was awarded an M.F.A. in 1939. He was made a naturalized citizen in 1940.