Showing posts with label Mark Landis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark Landis. Show all posts

October 17, 2014

Film Review: Mark Landis in the documentary "Art and Craft" explains art forgery

by Camille Knop, ARCA Alumna '14

“We all like to feel useful. Whatever ability we happen to have, we like to make use of it,” explains Mark Landis in the newly-released documentary, “Art and Craft,” which traces his career in art forgery. “And copying pictures is my gift.”

Landis has been in the news since 2010, when it was discovered that he had donated over one hundred forgeries over a period of thirty years, spanning forty-six museums across twenty states. Although Landis’ actions could be considered fraudulent, the fact that he never sold his forgeries makes them legal. “Art and Craft” paints a portrait of Landis’ character that satisfies this contradiction and exposes a motive that is unexpected yet relatable.

Directed by Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, and Mark Becker, “Art and Craft” often feels more like a documentary of a performance artist than that of an art forger. During its New York City release at the Angelika Film Center last month, the audience scoffed, giggled, and outright laughed in disbelief as they watched Landis at work. He forged countless images with undeniable talent, skillfully portrayed generous donors under various aliases, and teased museums into taking the bait. The genius of Mark Landis lies in the process of deception as much as in the forged work itself.

Most discovered art forgers are found to be motivated by a desire for financial gain and for revenge on an unforgiving and fickle art market. Artists themselves, they use their talents to benefit from the over-dependence of artistic value on authenticity. Ironically, their soft spots are similar to those of the museum directors interviewed in the film: art and money.

Landis, on the other hand, is interested in a different kind of profit. Unlike other art forgers, he claims he does not identify himself as an artist. Although he enjoys creating copies and duping experts, Landis is unique in that he gets the most pleasure out of impersonating art collectors. The friendly attention he receives from museum staff, although likely as insincere as his act, is what he craves and, ultimately, why he forges. “Art and Craft” traces this desire to emulate collectors he had seen in 'James Bond' films. In fact, his performances are inspired by the films and TV shows he watched as a child. He quotes them verbatim, almost as though they were original thoughts. “Necessity is the mother of invention, but sometimes the step-mother of deception,” is one such quote taken from "Charlie Chan’s Secret" (1936).  

Questions surrounding the future of Mark Landis’ work were brought up during the Q&A that followed the New York screening of “Art and Craft”. After having been featured in both a solo exhibition at the University of Cincinnati and in the film itself, it is clear that Mark Landis will have to put an end to his “philanthropic” career. Although he is unsure as to what his next step will be, when asked by an audience member if he would now be interested in selling his copies, Landis replied, "I may be eccentric, but I'm not crazy."

Ms. Knop studied art history and visual arts at Columbia University (Class of 2014).

February 23, 2014

Sam Cullman and Jen Grausman seeking support on Kickstarter to complete "Art and Craft", a documentary on art forger Mark Landis

Here's a link to the Kickstarter campaign to raise $48,250 to bring "Art and Craft", a documentary by Sam Cullman and Jen Grausman on the fraud art forger Mark Landis, to audiences:
THE STORY: Mark Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. His impressive body of work spans thirty years, covering a wide range of painting styles and periods that includes 15th Century Icons, the Hudson River School, and even Picasso. And while his copies could fetch impressive sums on the open market, Landis has never been in it for the money. Posing as a philanthropic donor, a grieving executor of a family member’s will, and most recently as a Jesuit priest, Landis has given away hundreds of works over the years to a staggering list of institutions across the United States. But, when Matthew Leininger, a registrar in Cincinnati, discovers his thirty-year ruse and organizes an exhibition of the work, Landis must confront his legacy and a chorus of museum professionals clamoring for him to stop.


August 31, 2013

The New Yorker: Mark Landis as forger or con artist? Alec Wilkinson quotes ARCA Founder Noah Charney

The August 26, 2013 issue of The New Yorker magazine includes an article on Mark Landis in an article by Alec Wilkinson "The Giveaway: Who was the mysterious man donating all the valuable art?"
Matthew Leininger, of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, was the first person to pursue Mark Landis, but Landis had been suspected as a forger by at least one museum, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, in Laurel, Mississippi. In 2003, five years before Everett Shinn called "Nymph on the Rocks." Landis had promised other works, which the museum tried for a year to obtain; which he didn't provide the pieces, the staff grew suspicious of him.
The article includes a quote by art historian Noah Charney, founder of ARCA:
Some people consider Landis to be not so much a forger as a con artists which is the epithet Leininger most often employs. Noah Charney, an art historian who is the founder of the Association for Research Into Crimes Against Art, in Rome, wrote me that he thinks of Landis as an adept impostor "more akin to identity fraudsters, like Clark Rockefeller." Money isn't what such people desire. They want to be treated as substantial citizens. "Social status and a feeling of belonging is their reward," Charney wrote. In this context, the painting or drawing Landis spends an hour making is ephemeral: it needs to last only long enough to admit him to a sympathetic haven.   


July 11, 2012

Noah Charney's "Lessons from the History of Art Crime" features "Mark Landis: the Forger Who Has Yet to Commit a Crime" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Noah Charney's column "Lessons from the History of Art Crime" features "Mark Landis: the Forger Who Has Yet to Commit a Crime" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime.
To trick the art world has been the primary motivation of nearly all of history’s known forgers. The financial gains aside, forgers often seek to fool the art community as revenge for having dismissed their own original creations. Traditionally, this takes two forms: first, forgers demonstrate their ability to equal renowned artists, by passing their work off as that of a famous master; and second, they show the so-called experts to be foolish, by thinking that the forgers’ work is authentic. Money has been only a secondary concern for many of history’s known forgers — an added bonus after the initial thrill of success at having fooled the art community. But one very unusual forger, the subject of an exhibition called “Faux Real” at the University of Cincinnati that opened on April Fools’ Day of this year, is an exception to just about every rule.
Noah Charney is the Founder and President of ARCA and the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Art Crime. Recently a Visiting Lecturer at Yale University, he currently is a professor at the American University of Rome and Brown University. He is the editor of ARCA’s first book, Art & Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World (Praeger 2009) and The Thefts of the Mona Lisa: On Stealing the World’s Most Famous Painting (ARCA Press 2011).

February 3, 2011

Financial Times Reporter Interviews Benevolent Forger

Financial Times' columnist John Grapper
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

In case you missed this interview by the Financial Times' chief business commentator, we're giving you the link here to "The forger's story" (January 21, 2011). John Gapper writes about Mark Landis who dressed up as a priest to donate paintings to art institutions.
"For nearly three decades, Landis has visited ­museums across the US in various guises and tried to donate paintings he has forged. As well as Father Scott, he has posed as “Steven Gardiner” among other aliases. He never asks for money, although museums have often hosted meals for him and made small gifts. His only stipulation is that he is donating in his parents’ names – often his actual father, ­Lieutenant Commander Arthur Landis Jr, a former US Navy officer.

Landis has been prolific and amazingly persistent. A few weeks before he came to Lafayette, “Father Scott” arrived at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, with a ­forgery of Head of a Sioux by Alfred Jacob Miller that he said he was giving in memory of his mother, “Helen Mitchell Scott”. Landis has so far offered copies of that work to five other museums. Yet in all this time, although curators speculate about his motives, no one has found out why he is doing it."
There's a paragraph mentioning the The New York Times that I read as a competitive -- and well-earned -- jab:
"The New York Times reported recently that Landis “seems to have disappeared altogether”, but it did not take long to locate him. After I had visited the Lauren Rogers museum, I drove the few blocks over to the apartment where his mother had lived, in a gated community for the elderly called Sugar Hill Resort."
John Gapper reports on why the forger sat down with him and talked about his family and his motivations. Fascinating story -- Mr. Gapper made me feel as if I too was meeting with the forger in an intimate talk. On his blog, Mr. Gapper continues with information he obtained after the interview with forger Mark Landis about where he purchased some of his materials. No, I won't be a spoiler, you have to go to Mr. Gapper's blog here, it's his story.

Photo: John Gapper.