Sluyser and Sluyser  23 April until 14 June 2009

From 23 April to 14 June 2009, in its new temporary display case, the JHM presents Sluyser and Sluyser, an exhibition of photos, letters, and manuscripts by the well-known chronicler of Jewish life Meyer Sluyser (1901-1973) along with several paintings by his son, the biochemist Mels Sluyser (1930). The exhibition was prompted by the museum's recent acquisition of archival documents and photographs relating to Meyer Sluyser, a gift from his son Mels.

Mels Sluyser, Sandwich shop, 2008Meyer Sluyser was a socialist, a propagandist for the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), a notorious contrarian, and, above all, a writer and journalist, best known as the author of books such as Er groeit gras in de Weesperstraat ('Grass is growing in Weesperstraat') en Die en die is er nog… ('This one's still around, and that one . . .'), which skilfully conjure up scenes of pre-war Jewish life in Amsterdam. His son, the biochemist Mels Sluyser (1930), followed in his father's footsteps with artistic reflections on nostalgic elements of Jewish history, but in his own very different fashion. While Meyer sketched Jewish life with his pen, Mels portrays it in oils in paintings such as Sandwich shop (2008), Yiddish humour (2007), Neshome (2007), and Schnorrer (2008). Like his father's prose, Mels' paintings evoke the atmosphere of a Jewish world that has vanished.

The exhibition also reveals another side of Meyer Sluyser, with photographs and documents from the period between 1940 and 1945, when Sluyser and his family were in exile in England. The documents on display include correspondence with relatives who remained in the Netherlands and Meyer Sluyser's letter of appointment to the Extraordinary Advisory Board for the Dutch government in exile. And we catch a glimpse of Sluyser's espionage activities in a coded letter in which nothing is what it seems . . .