Published on October 17th, 2014 | by gareth0
Art and Craft
Greetings & Salutations Fellow Movie Viewers!
Today, we have a documentary for you. The film I get to tell you about today chronicles one of the most talented and prolific art forgers in the history of the United States.
‘Art and Craft’ follows the story of Mark Landis. A man who not only tricked museums and institutions with his skills as an artist and forger but also with his talent for subterfuge. You see, Mr. Landis didn’t do this for money. By all accounts, Mr. Landis did not ask for or receive money.
Posing as an executor of a family member’s will, a philanthropic donor, and even a Jesuit priest, Mr. Landis donated or gave and unknown number of works ( the list continues to be updated now and again ) to a number of museums and institutions across the country. Emulating an impressive range of styles and periods from Charles Schulz, to Picasso, even 15th Century Icons.
For years Mr. Landis continued his work and his travels across the country and no one was the wiser until his work came to the attention of Matthew Leininger, a determined registrar who uncovers the truth and begins a professional and soon to be personal journey to bring to light the ruse that has fooled the art world for decades and finally put a stop to it. Coming to the realization that he cannot keep up the charade much longer, Landis must confront the consequences of his actions and the numerous art experts who demand he finally stop once and for all and ask that he use his talents to create original works.
I found this film to be extremely interesting and thought provoking. It’s a prime example of the phrase, “Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts”. If it looks to good to be true, it probably is and yet Landis was able to convince so many to accept his works as genuine without proof or authentication. It also begs the question though, why would such a talented individual with so much artistic potential resort to copying the works of others? ‘Art And Craft’ is not only a look into the world forgeries and copies, it’s also a movie that questions originality and the need for it. What does or doesn’t inspire a person? Does being a recluse help or hinder and artist? Is it a ‘crime’ to copy an artist? Or as they say, “The ultimate form of flattery” ? As a photographer, I found myself questioning how I feel if I copied someone’s work or would I be angry if someone like Landis copied mine and what I would expect to be done about it while watching the film.
This is definitely a documentary worth seeing regardless if your an artist or not. It’s a rare look inside the world of a forger AND an artist + the people who are tasked with protecting ‘the originals’ and discovering the fakes. Its a world within ours where sometimes being accepted into a community is just as frightening as NOT being accepted …..
I would give this film 4 out of 5 stars. It does tend to drag on at points but it’s definitely worth watching. See if you can find it playing at an art house theater or catch it online. I would suggest a beverage and a snack you can break into to help deal with the running time. On behalf of my fellows at ‘Skewed & Reviewed’ , this is your friendly neighborhood freelance photographer “The CameraMan” saying thanks for reading and we’ll see you at the movies ….