reviews

Bas Jan Ader, Studies for Broken fall (geometric), 1971, two C-prints, each 3 1/2 × 3 1/2". © Estate of Bas Jan Ader/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Bas Jan Ader

Metro Pictures

Bas Jan Ader, Studies for Broken fall (geometric), 1971, two C-prints, each 3 1/2 × 3 1/2". © Estate of Bas Jan Ader/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Vito Acconci followed people on New York City streets and Bas Jan Ader fell off the roof of his house in Claremont, California—all in the name of art. This past summer offered the opportunity to compare the divergent flavors of Conceptual art cooked up by this East Coast/West Coast odd couple, in the form of MoMA PS1’s formidable survey of early works by Acconci, and Metro Pictures’ two-room mini-survey of Ader’s career, which tragically ended with the Dutch artist’s fabled disappearance at sea in 1975 while navigating alone across the North Atlantic for In Search of the Miraculous. The similarities between the two artists’ oeuvres were obvious—penchants for poetry, Romanticism, and an intense collapse of art and life. Yet Acconci’s work was defined by machismo and masochism, while Ader’s was animated by cosmic pessimism: crying, wandering, and finally perishing. Ader’s

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