Tête-à-tête

Laminated menus, like in a point-to-eat sushi joint, are necessary to cope with the 19th-century buffet that is “Tête-à-tête.” The show amounts to a rotation of 150 paintings from the Frye’s permanent collection, closely packed onto four walls, which is emphatically TMI: too much information. So my advice is to grab the menu (one page per wall), narrow down your selection, and visit several times this year (considering the free admission). Give yourself an assignment, like trying the squid. Thus, for example, Hermann Corrodi (1844-1905) is a Swiss-born painter of no great reputation, but he has an eye for romantic landscapes and peasant scenes. His large, horizontal view of Venice dates to 1900, when newly unified Italy became a sightseeing destination—for the well-heeled—in the Baedeker guide. Instead of today’s cruise ships disgorging tourists, diagonal red sails at sunset welcome a fisherman’s humble family; a gondolier and the Piazza San Marco are more familiar sights, but rendered before they were cliché. Nearby, Corrodi’s coastal view of Corsica is oriented vertically, framed through a cleft ravine. An old tower or lighthouse stands on the shore, and a few white sails fleck the distant horizon. But this is a barren, sun-scoured, uncultured island—a place of leaving, not arrival. BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Starts: Feb. 6. Continues through Jan. 8, 2010

 
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