Art: Polar Idols

In one of Manhattan's plushier galleries last week, the brown-velvet hush was deeper than usual, and the corners darker. In a crisscross of spotlights, beings of stone and bronze bubbled, writhed, ballooned, embraced—or just flumped—with heavy grace upon their pedestals.

They were the work of a man ten years dead, but still roundly reviled and praised. Some art critics have ranked Gaston Lachaise with such recent greats as Rodin and Maillol, and just before Lachaise died, Manhattan's high-powered, streamlined Museum of Modern Art honored him with the sort of retrospective show it reserves for its...

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