Bas Jan Ader

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bas Jan Ader
Born 19 April 1942
Winschoten, Netherlands
Died Lost at sea, 1975 (Approx. aged 33)

Claremont Graduate University

Otis College of Art and Design
Occupation Artist/Photographer/film-maker (former)

Bastiaan Johan Christiaan "Bas Jan" Ader (1942-1975) was a Dutch conceptual artist, performance artist, photographer and filmmaker. He lived in Los Angeles for the last 10 years of his life. Ader's work was in many instances presented as photographs and film of his performances. He also made performative installations, including Please Don't Leave Me (1969). Ader was lost at sea in 1975 between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States and Ireland, when he set out to sea from Cape Cod in a small sailing boat as part of an attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean. His empty boat eventually washed up on the coast of Ireland.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born 19 April 1942, Ader grew up in Winschoten, cared for by his mother as one of two sons of Christian minister Bastiaan Jan Ader and Johanna Adriana Ader-Appels. His father had been executed in 1944 by the German occupying force, after his involvement in the underground resistance movement.


During adolescence Ader took art classes at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, and later in the United States during a study abroad program. Ader graduated from the Otis College of Art and Design in 1965 with a BFA, and from the Claremont Graduate School in 1967. After graduating, he taught at various institutions, including Mount San Antonio College, Immaculate Heart College, and the University of California, Irvine.


I'm too sad to tell you (1970)

Ader's most popular work is his 1970 silent short film piece, I'm too sad to tell you, that consists of the artist crying in front of a camera after a brief title.[2] The interests and concerns in Ader's oeuvre locate him in similar art historical tropes of conceptual and performance artists of the 1970s, such as Chris Burden and Bruce Nauman. Like many conceptual art works of the 1970s, his works were recorded in descriptive notes and statements destined to have flexible and repeated incarnations.

Many myths have spread out about Ader's disappearance at sea, leading to speculations about supposedly lost works resurfacing.


Ader was lost at sea while attempting a single-handed west-east crossing of the Atlantic in a 13 ft pocket cruiser, a modified Guppy 13 named "Ocean Wave". The passage was part of an art performance titled "In Search of the Miraculous". Radio contact broke off three weeks into the voyage, and Ader was presumed lost at sea. The boat was found after 10 months, floating partially submerged 150 miles West-Southwest of the coast of Ireland.

His body was never found. The boat, after being recovered by the Spanish fishing vessel that found it, was taken to Coruña. The boat was later stolen.[3] Ader's mother wrote the poem From the deep waters of sleep after having what she described as a premonition of his death.


Ader's revival began in the hands of artists, notable is Christopher Williams Bouquet for Bas Jan Ader and Christopher D'Arcangelo, 1991, with many later artists finding inspiration in the artist's romantic take on Conceptualism. With a limited body of work, primarily film and video, exhibitions of his work are difficult though two important retrospectives have occurred, one at the Sweeney Art Gallery in Riverside in 1999, curated by Brad Spence[4] with catalogue contributions by Thomas Crow, Jan Tumlir, and Brad Spence, and another organized by Camden Arts Centre, London and the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen Rotterdam, in cooperation with Kunsthalle Basel titled Bas Jan Ader – Please don’t leave me, accompanied by a catalogue published in English by Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, edited by Rein Wolfs, with texts by Erik Beenker and Jörg Heiser, amongst others.

The 2006 documentary film Here is Always Somewhere Else, followed up on Ader's recognition in the contemporary art world. As seen through the eyes of fellow Dutch emigrant filmmaker Rene Daalder, the film attempts to chronicle the life and work of Bas Jan Ader. Here is Always Somewhere Else, was released on DVD in November 2008 and features a collection of Bas Jan's film and video works.[5]

Additionally, Erika Yeomans' conceptual documentary In Search of Bas Jan's Miraculous (1998, 40 mins., mixed media) on the life and art of Bas Jan continues to screen in various festivals and galleries, most recently as part of Dutch Kultprom Russian Tour of Bas Jan's videos. The project was also featured on This American Life in 1996.[6] In 2009, 2nd Cannons Publications from Los Angeles released Rarely Seen Bas Jan Ader Film, a flip-book of a supposed lost Ader film. [7]


Specific references
  1. ^ [1] Sydney Morning Herald article, Stage Fright by John Macdonald, June 29, 2013
  2. ^ Bas Jan Ader: All Is Falling, Camden Arts Centre, April 2006. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  3. ^ Koos Dalstra, Marion van Wijk. (03/01/2007). Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous Discovery File 143/76. Veenman Publishers. ISBN 978-90-8690-011-4. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "From a Distance", This American Life, December 27, 1996
  7. ^ "Art review: David Horvitz at 2nd Cannons Publications". Los Angeles Times. July 16, 2009. 
Other sources

External links[edit]