Art: Frescoes in Wool

The little town of Aubusson, in central France, has been famed for centuries for its carpets and tapestries. But of late no one wanted to buy tapestries; they were too expensive and their designs were too fussy. People no longer needed them to hang over doors and windows to keep out drafts, or to cheer barnlike castle halls. Now, a former cubist and surrealist painter named Jean Lurçat has given Aubusson a new lease on life.

Jean Lurçat returned from World War I with a mangled hand. At first he could not hold a...

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