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Piece by Piece


Shows like the Whitney Biennial can do a lot for an unknown artist's reputation -- and, in this economy, his bankbook. In the months since his selection, the 56-year-old artist Al Souza, who trained as an engineer and splits his time between Texas and Massachusetts, has been swamped with interest -- and sales. About 45 of Souza's jigsaw-puzzle paintings from the past two years have been snapped up at prices from $2,000 to $14,000, about 20 percent more than he was used to getting. The Peaceful Kingdom, on view at the Whitney, has been reserved by the museum at a price tag of $50,000. Souza's recent show at the Moody Gallery in Houston sold out, and within a week of the mid-April arrival of his new works at the Charles Cowles Gallery, where he will show next season for the first time in New York since 1994, three of five pieces had already been spoken for.

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