In Search of the Miraculous: Bas Jan Ader on the absurd and the longing for transcendence

A dissertation by Hannah O'Flynn



In this dissertation I have investigated the correlation of ideas between the Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader’s works and the French-Algerian thinker and writer Albert Camus, who Ader was enormously influenced by. In particular, I have looked into the parallelisms between the artist’s artworks and one of the texts Camus is the most known for: The Myth of Sisyphus (Camus, 2013); which Bas Jan Ader was deeply interested in. In this dissertation I hope to enquire the depth of the influence of Camus’ ideas on the artist works and to look at how Bas Jan Ader developed forward the French-Algerian thinker’s ideas. I also hope to enquire to what extent Bas Jan Ader broke away from Camus’ thinking in his last work, In Search of the Miraculous (1975). Very little has been written up to date about Bas Jan Ader, and even if his correlation with Albert Camus has been investigated superficially in pre-existing literature, the depth of his influence on his work has not been extensively scrutinized up to now. For the purpose of this investigation, I will analyze four of the most essential works of Bas Jan Ader: Nightfall (1971), Broken Fall (Organic) (1971), I’m Too Sad to Tell You (1971) and his last work, In Search of the Miraculous (1975).