I watched a great documentary last night on the dutch/ californian artist Bas Jan Ader. I first saw an image of Bas Jan's Fall II on the cover of Tate, ETc. magazine while I was in art school. I was awestruck; I already knew about Vito Acconci and Chris Burden, who made similar work, but who was this guy with the unusual and beautiful Dutch name hurling himself into a most picturesque canal? I somehow knew he was a tragic charater from the beginning and my instinct was right on. Bas Jan Ader was lost forever at sea in 1975 performing his last artwork called (profoundly) In Search of the Miraculous. The film follows his history and emigration to America and the development of his career as an artist. His wife believes that he did not die on purpose, but watching the documentary a serious doubt is cast.
He was the real thing.
Here are some of his video works.
Fall II (1970)