Art: Whispering

Balthasar Klossowsky is a Parisian with Polish, Swiss and Scots blood boiling in his veins. Among friends he sometimes speaks proudly of descent from Lord Byron (through a Gordon grandmother); at other times he likes to style himself "The King of the Cats." But for everyday use he prefers plain "Balthus," and over that signature he has earned a reputation as one of the best of Paris' "younger" painters. Last week Balthus, who is 41, widened his fame with a Manhattan show.

The pictures were monumentally composed and painted in a crisp, realistic style reminiscent, at distant glance, of the 19th...

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