Art and Craft
Director: Jennifer Grausman, Sam Cullman, and Mark Becker
Run Time: 89 minutes
Mark Landis is a fraud. One of the world’s most prolific and successful art forgers, he’s spent much of his adult life replicating famous works of art and donating them under various aliases to museums and art galleries around the United States. Fuelled by a mischievous desire to dupe those around him, and an urge to push himself to mimic some of the greatest artists in history, he’s garnered the attention of various institutions, and angered many in his wake. Watched by the FBI, he’s not considered a felon as he’s never exchanged his pieces for profit. In spite of this legality, Matt Leninger has become increasingly infuriated by and obsessed with Landis. Following his donations, he’s lost his job in the process of tracking him down, and informing his “victims” of his fraudulence.
Rendered very much in the vein of Catch Me If You Can, Art and Craft calls attention not only to Landis and Leninger’s obsessive tendencies, their compulsion for perfection and their desire for fulfillment, but also the nature of mental illness. In subtle ways, this is as much about Landis’ possible brokenness as a human being as it is about the moral conundrum of his donating fraudulent works of art to major institutions. In fact, I’d argue it’s barely about the issue of his fraudulence at all.
This is very much a portrait of a strangely damaged man. Jennifer Grausman and Sam Cullman have allowed us to enter the mind of an incredibly capable individual who feels compelled to recreate masterpieces instead of creating his own. Sharply intuitive and keenly intelligent, Landis is no fool, in spite of his limitations. The film, as a result, is as colourfully eccentric as its protagonist. This is the story about a damaged man with an unconventional hobby. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t delve into the real issues surrounding Landis’ prolific forgeries, and it runs a bit too long. The time spent listening to Landis repeating himself would have been better served outlining the ethical and academic conundrums Landis has surfaced with his work.
Wednesday, April 30th at 11:59pm at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Saturday, May 3th at 4:00pm at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Sunday, May 4th at 11:00am at the Revue Cinema