Art: Miserable Nudes

Long dominated by a handful of aging masters, French artists have been increasingly aware, lately, of a young master now dead. Francis Gruber was only 36 when he died of asthma and T.B. in 1948; his Montparnasse friends remember him as an overpowering gay blade who talked, drank and painted at a furious clip and did all three magnificently. His paintings, on show in a Paris gallery last week, were sad and bony as a squirrel in March—cold and sometimes acid in color, scalpel-sharp in line. They consisted mostly of hollow-chested nudes, their breasts pinched with cold, whose bones and muscles...

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