Jewish Historical Museum will present the first major survey of the work of photographer Bert Nienhuis. This exhibition, planned in close cooperation with the photographer, will feature a remarkable selection of portraits and documentary photos taken by Nienhuis between 1972 and 2008. Many of these photographs first appeared in the weekly magazine Vrij Nederland.
Bert Nienhuis is a versatile and highly accomplished photographer, who over the past decades has produced an impressive body of work. Since 1975, as the staff photographer for Vrij Nederland, he has photographed countless Dutch and foreign politicians, artists, and thinkers, and his portraits now form a historical archive of inestimable value. Nienhuis has often been described as the best portrait photographer in the Netherlands, because of his unaffected style, his creative approach to mise-en-scène, and a sharp eye for subtle but telling details.
In the 1970s and 80s, Nienhuis made a big splash in special supplements to Vrij Nederland that featured his documentary photographs. Today, these sets of photos are recognized as classics. He was an engaged photographer, capturing changes in Dutch society in his photo reportages on employment, immigration and other timely topics. Through long and detailed study of the daily lives of ordinary people – an unusual working method in those days – he revitalized photojournalism. His subjects ranged from life on a campsite, or mass tourism on Mallorca, to the orthodox Calvinist fishing community on the Dutch island of Urk, or the emergence of a multicultural society in a working-class district of The Hague. In the 1980s, at the request of the Jewish Historical Museum, he took photos documenting Jewish life in the Netherlands.
The exhibition will include a short film about Bert Nienhuis by the documentary filmmakers Thomas Doebele and Maarten Schmidt, which will also be broadcast on Dutch television in early 2009 by the Joodse Omroep, a Jewish broadcasting corporation. The film was produced by René Mendel of Interakt.