Art: Poisoned Innocence, Surface Calm

At the Metropolitan, the problematic French painter Balthus

Two artists in our century have won worldwide fame by creating works whose best-known image is the child as sex object. One was the writer Vladimir Nabokov; the other is the painter Balthus. He is the antimodernist's modernist. His retrospective at the Pompidou Center in Paris this past winter drew large crowds, and in a March auction in London, one of his paintings went for more than $1 million.

The Paris show, with some additions and substitutions, has now come to the Metropolitan Museum of...

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