Monthly Archives: October 2008

More from Brugge

Bruges 2008

Here are a few more shots – as you can see, on a gray day things can look a little bleak. I found the lack of trees in some areas to be a real downside.

Bruges 2008

But this area of the Begijnen was very lovely.  This area was created by women who had lost their men in the Crusades, and they took a vow of chastity and lived within the walls of this area.

Bruges 2008

And here I am in Brugge…

Curt in Brugge

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A visit to Brugge

Bruges - morning canal

Just back from a quick weekend visit to the ancient Belgian town of Bruges, also known as Brugge. I got pretty lucky with the weather – as you can see, a nice sunny day on Saturday. Above is a shot of a canal near where I was staying. Next is a shot taken in the main square, known as the Markt.

Bruges - Markt

Here a couple more picturesque scenes – the town abounds in them! Bruges was apparently at its peak back in the 1300 and 1400s, then faded in importance for quite a long time. These days it’s a very well preserved tourist attraction.

Bruges - Canal House

Bruges - Begijnen

Later I’ll post a few more shots from a bit further off the beaten track.

Utrecht landmark

Rietveld Schröder House

This weekend I finally made it to an architectural landmark in Utrecht, the Rietveld Schröder House, built in 1924 on what was then the outskirts of town.  Quite obviously a very modern and striking departure from the buildings of the time, it was commissioned by a woman named Truus Schröder, whose husband had died leaving her with three children.  The architect was Gerrit Rietveld, who got his start designing furniture.  Rietveld’s design was inspired by the art movement De Stijl, most well known nowadays from the paintings of Piet Mondriaan (example below from 1921).

Mondriaan - Tableau - 1921

Remarkably Schröder lived in the house the rest of her life, until 1985, at which time the house was given to the Centraal Museum of Utrecht.  She had changed very little in the interior, so the house today is virtually as it was over 80 years ago, with furniture designed by Rietveld and many interior design features by Schröder.  She wanted an open living space upstairs, and this was achieved with a set of sliding walls that could be pulled out to divide the space or pushed back to open it up.  The innovative use of windows and steel beam structural components made for a light-filled interior quite different from most Dutch housing of the time.

Neue Leipziger Schule – Art in Amstelveen

Martin Kobe

Last weekend I happened upon a new museum show at the CoBrA Museum in Amstelveen, a suburb just to the south of Amsterdam.  It’s a group show entitled “Neue Leipziger Schule” featuring the new generation of painters from Leipzig in the former east German, the most famous name at the moment being Neo Rauch.  I wrote earlier about Matthias Weischer, another painter represented in the show.

Martin Kobe

When I was in Leipzig this summer I went out to visit the art center that’s been created at the former textile factory complex, and found the gallery that represents Rauch and Weischer, discovering another painter that I quite liked, David Schnell.  This show at the CoBrA features a couple more painters who have stylistic similarities to Schnell, and I’d like to see more of their work.  The first is Martin Kobe – the images above are examples of his work – and the second is Ulf Puder, example below.

Ulf Puder painting

These 3D worlds of partial architectures seem influenced by scenes created in computer games, and I find them to be very interesting to ponder.  No, I don’t make any claim to understand them…  assuming there’s something to understand above and beyond the visual interest inherent in these paintings.

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes!

Enough financial news for the moment – back to some local coverage!

Bikes in Utrecht

Yes, always lots of bicycles around in Utrecht!

Bike Lane

Above you see a line up at an intersection. Below, a great customized Pink Panther bike, with room for two in the front compartment!

Pink Panther bike

And here’s a more serene view of the outer canal…

Green Canal in Utrecht

House of Cards, part 5

Well, the bailout was passed, and the contagion keeps spreading.  It appears that many banks are severely undercapitalized, so even good borrowers can’t get short-term loans.

This snippet from today’s NY Times “A Day (Gasp) Like Any Other” by Joe Nocera does not sound encouraging, but then again Oct 23 is so far away that the whole picture may be different by then…

 … certain ominous dates are fast approaching. One is Oct. 23, when the auction will take place to settle the credit-default swaps relating to the Lehman bankruptcy. I saw one estimate that the amount of money firms will owe each other could be as much as $400 billion. Why? Firms that insured against the risk of a Lehman default are going to owe billions to other firms — but they’ll want to collect from the firms with whom they laid off the risk. And so on down the line. The upshot is that many firms are not going to have the money to pay off the insurance claims they owe, and they are likely to be ruined.

Nocera’s done a number of good analysis pieces on the current events.