Art: Sad Man

Never before had Manhattan's Whitney Museum held a retrospective show of a living painter. To break its precedent, the museum chose a Japanese-American named Yasuo Kuniyoshi, who ranks among the top dozen U.S. artists. For the painter, the exhibition was a test as well as a tribute. Would his life work, spread out on the walls, seem worth the effort it represented? "I had a butterfly in my stomach," Kuniyoshi confessed last week, "just thinking about it."

He need not have worried; the critics were "kind"; Kuniyoshi's artist friends, who call him "Yas" (for...

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