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Philip Guston, The Painter’s Table (1973)

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Cape Code, 1975: In one of the most audacious and mythological moments in contemporary art, Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader left on a record-breaking solo trip across the Atlantic in a 12-foot boat. Three weeks into his trip, radio communication was lost. Ten months later, his boat was found abandoned off the coast of Ireland.

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A photograph of Bas Jan Ader’s childhood sailing permit.

This voyage was intended as a performance piece, which Ader titled “In Search of the Miraculous”. The intentions in relation to the outcome of this work remains ambiguous—was his death the result of an accident, or was his it something much more deliberate? What is evident, is how consuming Ader’s art was.

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Bas Jan Ader, still from I’m too Sad to Tell You (1970)

Ader is his own subject. This is what makes his work both difficult, and extremely interesting to watch. Instead of understanding the artist through the intermediate of his work, the work is the artist himself.

[youtube.com/watch?v=1BfcQrsI7uM]

 

Bas Jan Ader, Broken Fall (organic) (1971)