His parents were both Calvinist ministers. His father was executed in by the Nazis for his large scale endeavors to help Jewish compatriots to escape the Holocaust. Works[ edit ] Ader created a handful of photographs as well as several short black-and-white films in which he is the sole performer. The magazine featured "interviews" with nonexistent artists, such as "Brian Shitart", and pranks such as "expandable sculpture" which was five packing peanuts in an envelope.
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Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous London: Afterall Books, In his tragically short career, the Dutch-born artist Bas Jan Ader has often been called a romantic conceptualist, a seeming contradiction considering the dry, analytical approach of his peers.
Themes of noble tragedy, majestic triumph, even grand failure: these were concerns of the Romantics and the Abstract Expressionists—certainly not rigorous subject matter for conceptualist artists. Ader apparently held retrograde interests, but he certainly was no reactionary. He also paid dearly for his art. In Ader set sail from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in a one-person sailboat for the second part of his three-piece work, In Search of the Miraculous.
He never completed his transatlantic voyage to Falmouth, England: radio contact was lost three weeks into the journey, and eight months later his boat was discovered partially submerged off the coast of Ireland.
Briefly, In Search consists of photographs of a night walk in Los Angeles, where he lived and worked, and a chorus of friends and students singing old sea hymns; the ocean crossing; and another night walk in Amsterdam.
In an engaging, cumulative argument that spans only forty-nine pages, the author emphasizes how this work investigates rather than embodies the very subject of the romantic, denying the common reading of the artist as a tragic figure, as his death at sea and the resulting cult of personality would have it.
Through the sophisticated use of textual and mass-culture sources—outdated music old pop songs, even older sea shanties and obsolete methods of international travel sailing instead of flying —this work critically explores how existential thought and the romantic quest for the sublime might still be relevant. Since Ader lived only to age thirty-three [and therefore had a relatively small oeuvre], Verwoert discusses a number of other works. For many conceptual artists, the idea took precedence over form and content: ideas could be works of art in themselves.
Implied in this was a rejection of Romanticism. Ader, though, understood these taboo subjects as abstract ideas and urgently tested their validity. Originally published in the Art Book in February
Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous
Bas Jan Ader
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