A Bas Jan Ader retrospective (his first in Italy) has recently opened at the Museo d’Arte Moderna in Bologna. The late Dutch/Californian artist’s work is typically melancholic, as his famous film ‘I’m Too Sad To Tell You’ (above) featuring the weeping artist attests. In fact, Jan Ader is perhaps one of the art world’s most romantic figures. In 1975 he embarked on a a journey across the Atlantic in a tiny sailboat as part of a work entitled In Search of the Miraculous. He never came back. (Here is Always Somewhere Else, a 2008 documentary made by his friend Rene Daalde explores the artist’s life and mysterious disappearance).
Here in Australia, emerging artist Liam O’Brien revisited ‘I’m Too Sad To Tell You’ with a video and a live performance in 2011, both entitled ‘I’m Too Drunk To Tell You’, featuring O’Brien drinking himself into oblivion. He’s not the only one to revisit the artist’s work, with a multitude of other homages cropping up online. Jan Ader’s influence is made all the more poignant given his modest oeuvre; during his lifetime he made only seven films.