Art: Mere Misery

The white-haired boy of the Paris art world is Bernard Buffet, a dour, 23-year-old recluse. His paintings are miserable in mood, dingy in color, austere in composition and lifeless in essence. Yet he sells almost everything he does, for fat prices—and rake-thin Artist Buffet paints upwards of 100 canvases a year.

Last week a Paris gallery proudly displayed three mural-sized Buffets representing the Flagellation, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. Each was spare as an Egyptian frieze, ominous as a nightmare. Haggard men in black swimming trunks and bony women in black dresses posed stiffly and grimly against dirty white skies. The resurrected...

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