Art: Late Late Roman

Italy's Milan is one of Europe's liveliest modern art centers. Last week it buzzed with news of an artist who was anything but modern. An inarticulate and now almost blind peasant carver named Alberto Sani, he seemed to have been born 16 centuries after his time.

As a soldier in a remote Alpine outpost during World War I, Sani had started whittling to while the time away. Afterward he found work at a rich artist's villa in the province of Siena. The artist gave Sani plenty of time off for sculpture, taught him to...

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