Bruxelles: Ville de Contraste~

Brussels is a city of contrasts. Classical architecture and modern sculpture share the same streets. Consider this outdoor piece for example. What do you make of it?
(Warning: parental guidance, this post contains graphic depiction of the nude human form).
Nearby is The Palace of Justice, the largest building constructed in the 19th century, at 260,000 square feet.
It contains Belgium’s highest court and is considered an example of “Assyro-Babylonian” architecture.

Leaving this impressive building, one walks down the street approaching the police department, where this person is on display on the street in a store window.
It took me some time to figure out if this was a living person. I thought I saw her blink when taking the photo and was disquieted by the drain in the corner giving the piece a surreal, exposed, autopsy feeling. I wanted to give the woman a blanket as it was cold. Some children came upon this at the same time as I and they seemed very quiet. Turns out it’s a bronze by an artist named John de Andrea who seems to make a life study of “realistic” naked women. Interesting dude……Interesting city of contrasts.
There are fascinating rooftops.
Over the top gilded royal palaces.

And remember, it is Belgium, so you are always guaranteed fabulous chocolate!
Cheers to you from mind, and waist, expanding Bruxelles!

126 thoughts on “Bruxelles: Ville de Contraste~

  1. The architecture is amazingly beautiful. The nude is disturbing on a couple of levels. The drain you mentioned would definitely give me pause… and I object vehemently to women being portrayed with hairless crotches. So unnatural, but common in our male dominated society. sighs… I would have had a hard time knowing whether or not she was real, and that’s a great credit to the artist. Lovely photos.

    1. Yes, you articulated several important points. We could have a long discussion on this from so many perspectives. The first impulse I had was protective, that this woman was being exposed, and if she was alive this was exploitive. Would they display a man like this? Then I wondered how is this reflective of classical sculpture? How do we rationalize the different attitudes towards the exhibition of female vs male nudes? The drain bugged me. Was this sleeping beauty, or an autopsy? When I got back I googled the artist and saw all his works. Your comments bring up the whole more disturbing confusion about age here, she was an adult, yet she was not. We have pretty messed tradtions about female sexuality don’t we? Thank you for bringing up some points. I wish we could get a group together to discuss this. It would be so interesting for me. I imagine women see this differently then men, but then, I imagine women and men see it differently from each other.

    1. There were thousands of crystal chandeliers each with thouands of crystals. Can you imagine having to polish these? One huge room with covered with some sort of green insect wings.

  2. Interesting post, Cindy! 🙂
    And you made me smile, warning parents about the realistic sculpture of a naked woman. This is very kind, but so typical american! 😉
    A friend of mine shortly told me about her experience at Venice beach. Not that young and mostly good looking people walk around barenaked over there. But what they do not show (and how they “cover” their bodies), may make it even more interesting to look at them. That’s the reason why they present that way. Nothing to say against that, in my opinion. It’s their choice and nobody should be annoyed.
    In this setting my friend was asked to dress her 3 year old daughter with an additional bikini top – otherwise they should leave the beach.
    No doubt, european and american culture have split widely! 😉

      1. That’s another point. And I agree…
        It’s still a society of primarily male dominated thinking, we live in. There are many unreflected stereotypes that have to be burried in peoples minds. I work at, by teaching my daughter awareness for these causal relations. My parents did so for me and I am grateful.

        1. Thank you so much for this comment. Means a lot to me. It is super hard to articulate this. I was a therapist for thirty some years. I dealt with so many sexually abused females, many minors, and I am of course female. It is hard to broach this without being accused of prudism, feminism, or some other ism. I just want vulnerable people to be protected, or failing that, to have a voice, that speaks up when one sees a unprotected vulnerability.

      2. Please excuse me Cindy! It’s for sure difficult to discuss such a topic at wordpress! And I appologize having touched such a personal issue. It must have been very challenging to work in this field! I believe that victims of mental or physical violence – may it be caused by gender thinking, religion, racism or whatever – should get the full support of our society. Unfortunately mankind seems not yet ready to solve these problems at their roots. Warm greetings from Stefan

      1. Thank you, Cindy. I was just wondering if you would mind my using the bronze lady photograph in one of my future blogs I have been planning? If so, would you be so kind as to mail it as an attachment to ‘’ please?!

  3. Wow, it’s a bronze!! Your photos are all amazingly beautiful, make me want go there… Oh Belgium chocolate! I also love their hand-made laces… Happy travel, Cindy.

  4. The photos are amazing, beautiful and I’m sure capture the spirit of Brussels, definitely a place on my ‘bucket list’ of places yet to see. The nude sculpture does indeed look so real one can mistake it easily I’m sure for a real live model. The defined features are so exact it could even pass as a wax sculpture as I have viewed many of those in California in a wax museum. Our city of Loveland here in Colorado has world re-known sculptors and artists that also do very beautiful work and we have annual sculpture/art shows where the pieces and their works are on display and for sale and once when we were there they used a live model during the show while the artist was sculpting her. So, it too drew quite a crowd. 🙂 .

  5. Quite the contrast. As you say,over the top architecture,ceilings,furnishings and frescoes, which are all things of beauty and then to come upon a lifelike nude, beautiful and eerie at the same time. So close to the police station which is ironic. Do you remember what kind of store this was? Your trip sounds grand.

    1. Love you thoughtful comment that summarizes things so sensitively. I am not sure of the business, but it may have been a gallery. I didn’t go in, but I will look it up.

  6. What an interesting photographic tour and I adore architecture too. Thank you for the journey, it looks like a wonderful time! Yes, the female nude does garner a post all on her own! Light & love to you.

  7. Thanks Cindy for the great tour! There is much beauty and depth in contrast. That’s how we learn what we want and don’t want. …and now I want some Belgian chocolates as a dessert.

    1. It is an outdoor fountain consisting of a large circular plate about 15 feet in diameter, and more indented plate above it, and a large sphere. Water spilled over all three, and I photographed it from 9 stories up in the rain. Hugz to you Resa~

  8. That bronze was disturbing….not only in itself but for the image of women that it represented…the exploitation of vulnerability.
    That said i love visiting Brussels, not just for the shops and the architecture, but for the flea markets. I could fill a shipping container there…

    1. I missed the flea markets and would have loved them. We did go to the antiques streets and I found a desk I liked very much. I opened it and the tray table was very heavy. The clerk came over and helped me so I didn’t flop it down. I asked how much it was. $350,000 USD. There is a companion piece in the Louvre! We left soon after. I was too afraid of breaking something!

  9. It looks stunning, beautiful photos. I’d love to visit Brussels, it looks very grand. The bronze is amazingly skilful but slightly scary I think.

  10. The modern sculpture is beautiful. The lady? Well…..she does look cold even for a sculpture. When I first saw that photo I wondered for a minute if the red light district had become main street in Brussels.

  11. To me, globes always seem to represent the heart, core and essence of anything. This one seems to say that the essence of life is a peaceful but indomitable glow.

    Then again perhaps it is meant for people to consider their own meaning. Good modern art does seem to exhibit quite a bit of old Rorschach. Although, I think, they often do it better.

    Great pieces of architecture. A good variety suggests a live and let live attitude, which is always pleasing to see. Enjoy you’re trip . 🙂 Always interesting photographs. :-). G

    1. As usual Graham, I always find what you have to say to be thoughtful and well considered. I love the image of the “peaceful but indomitable glow,” and contemplative expression of human search for meaning. I also appreciated the reminder about tolerance and support for a diversity of viewpoints and feelings. You rock my friend and would make a wonderful blog reviewer. In your spare time perhaps??????

      1. Aaww shucks, I’ll bet you say that to all the fellas. You’ll give me ideas above my bus stop. 🙂

        I do intend to create some lists of favourite posts. But, I don’t think I’ll review. I’d have to make comments. Heaven forfend (I have naughty side). 😀

  12. A great overview of contrasts! I used to visit Brussels for meetings in the winter and remember moules et frites, great beer and chocolates so fresh and rich with cream that would go off if not kept in the fridge…clearly I missed some of the finer aspects!

  13. Great series of photos Cindy, the contrast between the 1st and 2nd shots was incredible ~ especially the perspective of the second shot, such an incredible expanse… And the bronze lady, incredible as well. I now have a new destination, thank you!

  14. What an amazing city! And the architecture is stunning! I like architecture…I have a greater interest in modern architecture but this sort on your blog is just magnificent 🙂

  15. I love the architecture from the past…always so meaningful, so classy, and beautiful. The images you always capture are so very awesome! Thanks for sharing these with us! It is always like receiving a taste of bliss!

  16. Such beautiful and breathtaking architecture, Cindy. Belgium is obviously a fabulous place to visit — albeit the naked woman statue! Yes, I’m prudish if you want to call it that. I like your term of protective for the same reasons you stated. Anyway, my experience with Belgium has been only with Hercule Poirot! LOL! You are expanding my horizons! Now, I wonder if I have any chocolate around here! 😀 <3

  17. I loved Brussels. I was there a long, long time ago but still remember snippets. That bronze nude is something else. I read your comments to assure myself that it was indeed a piece of art. What talent, eh?

    Great photos as always.

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