Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big  Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date First Look: Cobie Smulders & Guy Pearce In Andrew Bujalski's 'Results' First Look: Cobie Smulders & Guy Pearce In Andrew Bujalski's 'Results' 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders Review: 'The Maze Runner' Starring Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson, Will Poulter And More Review: 'The Maze Runner' Starring Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson, Will Poulter And More Exclusive: Matthew McConaughey Won’t Be Back For ‘Magic Mike XXL,’ Director Says Sequel Will Be “Very Different” Exclusive: Matthew McConaughey Won’t Be Back For ‘Magic Mike XXL,’ Director Says Sequel Will Be “Very Different” David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Tribeca Review: ‘Art And Craft’ Is An Empathetic View Of Talent, Artistic Obsession & Mental Illness

Photo of Rodrigo Perez By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist April 30, 2014 at 4:01PM

In the art world, the name Mark Landis causes instant inflammation and or apoplectic emotional responses. One of the most prolific art forgers in the United States, Landis has duped art galleries across the entire country posing as an affluent philanthropist and art patron wishing to donate rare works from his collection. ​But the "gifts" that Landis is bequeathing are actually precisely constructed reproductions (Picasso, Matisse, et al) that he himself has painted. And his impeccably faultless craft is such that galleries across the country including the venerable Philadelphia Museum of Art and Art Institute of Chicago have been fooled. Mark Landis is public enemy #1 to anyone curating and exhibiting art.
0
Art & Craft

In the art world, the name Mark Landis causes instant inflammation and/or apoplectic emotional responses. One of the most prolific art forgers in the United States, Landis has duped art galleries across the entire country posing as an affluent philanthropist and art patron wishing to donate rare works from his collection. ​But the "gifts" that Landis is bequeathing are actually precisely constructed reproductions (Picasso, Matisse, et al) that he himself has painted. And his impeccably faultless craft is such that galleries across the country including the venerable Philadelphia Museum of Art and Art Institute of Chicago have been fooled. Mark Landis is public enemy #1 to anyone curating and exhibiting art.

After 30 years of prolifically deceiving the art community, Landis is exposed by Matthew Leininger, a determined registrar from Cincinnati whose obsession with revealing the counterfeiter is almost as zealous as the forger’s need to recreate and “gift.” And where it gets tricky for Leininger and those seeking to thwart Landis, is that no illegal actions have ever been made. Landis never asks for money in return for his donations. This is where the documentary becomes fascinating, as it begins to explore the psychological machinations behind this faker’s fixation.

Art & Craft

Directed by Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman (with a co-directing credit for Mark Becker), Landis’ motivations are the real absorbing treasure of the documentary and they are as deceptive as his own deceits. As they slowly unfurl, the audience discovers not an unethical fraudster, but a troubled, physically frail and psychologically delicate individual. And it’s not quite clear if he’s aware of his various deceptions. Described as schizophrenic by some, this is far too reductive. Landis appears to be somewhere on the autism spectrum as he is introverted, socially ill at ease (he doesn’t make eye contact as is a trait of many on the spectrum) and acutely focused on his art.

Leininger is a character himself, even one who threatens to overtake the documentary at times and whose OCD-diagnosed fanaticism for taking down his bête noir precipitates the loss of his job. Landis’ cons are myriad and complex. Sometimes he poses as a priest, and other times he acts bereaved, creating a fictional sister who has recently died to be part of his duping narrative. In truth, it’s Landis’ mother that has passed on two years before the documentary is finished and while never shown or seen, his constant references to “mother” make it clear she had a huge impact. But to what extent, in any negative sense, remains unclear.

Art & Craft

A well-rounded and compassionate portrait of an outsider with some degree of misdiagnosed mental illness, “Art and Craft,” is an engrossing document of immense talents gone sideways. Mark Landis has a level of craft and mimicry that is unparalleled, which goes beyond copying. But its meticulous fastidiousness seems rooted in a mania he cannot control. Soft-spoke and shy, it’s clear Landis has no malicious intent, but he's nevertheless a massive stain on the reputation of the art world that many want to blot out.

The documentary’s coup de grace is capturing an exhibit dedicated to Landis’ forgeries, one meant to further ferret out Landis' imitation, raise awareness of art fraudulence and celebrate his talents (as complex a motivation for an art show as there possibly has ever been). Landis meets his nemesis Leininger, and even the preoccupied man is forced to recognize he’s dealing with an emotionally multifaceted individual, far from possessing unscrupulous traits, and who could probably use some kind of psychological help, too. What emerges here is perhaps the key to the documentary and the psychology behind Landis’ actions: the need to be accepted, the desire to fit in and the longing to belong to a community he so greatly admires. Straightforwardly shot and sensitive of its subject, “Art And Craft” is a intriguing depiction of counterfeit impulses (both wrongly perceived and irrepressible), immense talent gone awry and what lies behind the desire to create. [B+]

Browse through all our coverage of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival by clicking here.

This article is related to: Art And Craft, Reviews, Review, Tribeca Film Festival


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates