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Spinoza: Marrano of Reason, in Amsterdam, Netherlands


The Jewish Art Salon presents Spinoza: Marrano of Reason. The complex legacy of groundbreaking 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza is the subject of this two-site exhibition opening March 7th at Amsterdam’s historic Amstelkerk and the Plein van Siena.

Opening receptions March 7th, 2019

17:00-18:30, Plein van Siena, Short Gallery Talk by Ben Vedder, Center for Contemporary European Philosophy

18:30-20:00, Amstelkerk, Short Gallery Talk by Ori Z. Soltes, Georgetown University

On view March 7th until March 29, 2019.

Curators: Janet Heit (NYC), Billha Zussman (Amsterdam), and  Goldie Gross (NYC).

The legacy of groundbreaking 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza is the subject of an exhibition opening at Amsterdam’s historic Amstelkerk and the Plein van Siena on March 7th, 2019. The exhibition includes works by approximately 40 contemporary artists inspired by Spinoza’s philosophy and life exploring issues raised by identity, conformity, immigration, community, exile, spirituality, and more.

Spinoza, whose ancestors had fled the Inquisition for the Netherlands, had a traditional Jewish upbringing, but as a young adult came to believe that human beings should live their lives guided by reason. A brilliant introvert who did not seek to impose his ideas on others, Spinoza’s ideas nevertheless shook the world and were considered so heretical, so deviant, that he was excommunicated for life from Amsterdam’s Jewish community. Today, he is remembered for rejecting divine transcendence in favor of rationality, a concept that paved the way for the Enlightenment. The exhibition’s title refers to Spinoza and Other Heretics: The Marrano of Reason  by scholar Yirmiyahu Yovel.

An essay by Ori Z. Soltes, professor of Theology and Fine Arts at Georgetown University, will accompany the exhibition. Gallery Talks, Walking Tours, and a Concert will be held in conjunction with the exhibition.

More info, images and artist statements here.

Participating artists:

Rena Bannett, Yehudis Barmatz-Harris, Jaron Beekes, Gabriella Boros, Robert Brandwayn, Shoshannah Brombacher, Tal Demsky, Susan Dickman, Paul Dikker, Dorit Jordan Dotan, Tracy Ellyn, Alan Falk, Jan Ayers Friedman, Goldie Gross, Beth Haber, Judith Joseph, Lenore Mizrachi-Cohen, Richard McBee, Saskia Pfaeltzer, Leah Raab, Archie Rand, Trix Rosen, Cynthia Beth Rubin, Ruth Schreiber, Susan Schwalb, Irina Sheynfeld, Joel Silverstein, Ieke Spiekman-Rottenberg, Miriam Stern, Kris Tonski, Toby Turkel, Susan Turner, Yona Verwer, David Wander, Joyce Ellen Weinstein, Laurie Wohl, Frits Woudstra, Billha Zussman, and Munnus Zweerts.

Viewing hours:

Amstelkerk, Amstelveld 10, Amsterdam, Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00. Tel: 020-520-0090

Plein Van Siena, Rijnstraat 109hs, Amsterdam, Tue-Fri, 13:00-17:30, Sat 12:00-17:00. Tel: 020-442-2009

About the curators:

Janet Heit is a New York-based curator known for bringing emerging artists into the cultural mainstream. She is a prior Helena Rubinstein Fellow in Museum Studies and past recipient of an NEA Grant for Art Criticism. Curator Billha Zussman is an Israeli-Dutch artist with a longstanding interest in Spinoza. She works at Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum.

This exhibition is being made possible in large part thanks to a very generous individual who wishes to remain anonymous, and the International Movers Network.

Graphic design by Irina Sheynfeld.

Walking tour, special events, and more info: the events page will be published late January, or email

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About the venues

The Amstelkerk is a former church, built between 1668-1670, and served the inhabitants of the newly built outer circles of the canals. Plans to rebuild the wooden church into a stone one were never completed, so to this day the Amstel Church is still a wooden structure. The church is managed by Stadsherstel, which restores and preserves monuments. The building features monthly art exhibitions, concerts and lectures.

Plein van Siena is a center for study, reflection, encounter and spirituality in Amsterdam-Zuid. They want to emulate an open, inviting, atmosphere in the spirit of Dominicus, Catherine of Siena and Thomas Aquinas. They regularly present exhibitions of contemporary visual artists, and activities around culture, philosophy, theology and humanity.

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