Wednesday, November 01, 2017


We took a long weekend to visit Winterthur in Switzerland.
The main reason was to go to the Oskar Reinhart Museum, where there is an important collection of paintings from the Romantic movement in Germany. The painting that we wanted to see most is called Chalk Cliffs on Rügen  by Caspar David Friedrich. The motivation was our trip earlier this year for Kathy's birthday to the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea. It was on this island that Friedrich painted the chalk cliffs. (this photo is an example from our blog for Rügen of the type of ever-changing chalk formations that might have inspired Friedrich)
Another motivation for visiting the museum was Richard's fondness for painters from the Romantic movement in Germany. Such painters often used symbolism to portray a personal religious system, which was often pantheistic through nature. Romantic sentiments can still be found in Germany today in the love of woodland. In this painting by Friedrich, the three figures are often interpreted as the eternal, the worldly, and the abyss. (The standing man is looking out to the horizon and two tiny boats, which can be interpreted as the soul. The kneeling man is looking down to the abyss. And the woman in a red dress (who is usually identified as Friedrich's wife, Caroline) symbolizes love in this life. (The trip to Rügen for Friedrich and his wife was a honeymoon, having just been married earlier that same year.)

Before going to Winterthur, we read up on it and got the impression it was an industrial town with companies like Sulzer, Rieter and SLM having built large industrial plants in the 1800s. It was also described as a city with little tourism. We were pleasantly surprised as soon as we walked into the old town from the train station on the way to our hotel. It was late in the evening, but the streets were full of people strolling and sitting at the sidewalk tables of the cafes and Kneipes. The next day we saw many young families and young couples. We knew we were in an incredibly vibrant college town. One evening we went out for cocktails, and after the first Manhattan I decided some soup for dinner would  be nice. I ordered the Thai soup with green curry, which was a mistake, because it was so spicy. But the waitress took pity on me and brought water and then later, when the fire was still raging, she brought some plain white bread and sugar. That did the trick, and later I was able to enjoy another Manhattan.

Our hotel was really nice, with lots of nice touches in the room and a really good restaurant. It was in the middle of the old town, and just a short walk to the sites. It was surrounded by stores included music shops and a great sewing store.

Not far from the hotel was the old town church. The inside had been renovated with beautiful blue colors and paintings depicting the saints

But the most memorable of all, next to the Oskar Reinhart Museum, was the Gewerbemuseum, which is the Museum of Applied Arts and Design. It contains the  Kellenberger Collection of clocks and  watches, and there are some beautiful pieces included. I also liked the large, old clockworks with all of the internals exposed.

We were lucky to be at the Gewerbemuseum during the special exhibit of the German photographer Hans Hansen. The exhibit was called EISWASSERGLAS, which means Ice-water-glass. He also collects some of the glass items that he photographs, and many pieces from his collection were also on display. It was fun to try to identify the pieces on display in the photographs.

Hansen started off his collection with the purchase of a jar by the Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala. There are several of Wirkkala's pieces on display in the permanent collect at the museum. Hansen also photographs pieces by Ritsue Mishima, Hanneke Fokkelman, and Tora Urup. A collection of Tora Urup's work was also on display. I especially liked the layered bowls. This photograph shows a two-layered blue bowl and a three-layered white bowl. What is interesting is that each piece is a single bowl, but each looks like multiple bowls. The clear glass between layers of colored glass make the shape of the layers change, depending on the angle it is observed from. That's more obvious in the orange bowl.