OT: Art & Craft: when a fraud isn't in it for the money what are they in it for?

  • October 10, 2015 at 5:18 pm #23074

    hi all,

    Just thought some of you might appreciate this film—streaming here FREE. Super interesting documentary about this essentially very sweet eccentric conman who goes around pretending to be various people, with elaborate stories, and doing magnificent art forgeries—passing them off as real, and doing “acts of kindness” by donating these precious [albeit forged] artworks to museums all over the United States, because he always wanted to be a philanthropist!

    <video controls=”controls” width=”300″ height=”150″>
    <source src=”http://www.pbs.org/pov/artandcraft/full.php#.Vhj3jCv5HCY” /></video>



    “Mark Landis is one of the most prolific art forgers of the modern era — and he isn’t in it for the money. In the last 30 years he’s copied hundreds of pieces, from 15th-century icons to works by Picasso and even Dr. Seuss, then donated them to museums across the country. When a tenacious registrar discovers the ruse, Landis must confront his legacy and a chorus of duped professionals intent on stopping him. But Landis is a diagnosed schizophrenic, driven since his teens to escape “the life of a mental patient,” and ending the con isn’t so simple. A cat-and-mouse caper told with humor and compassion, Art and Craft uncovers the universal in one man’s search for connection and respect. Official Selection of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Named a Top 5 Documentary by the National Board of Review. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.”


    Slightly reminiscent of the documentary Catfish!


    strawberries *and* blueberries

    October 10, 2015 at 8:47 pm #23094

    Wow, what an interesting story. This guy is definitely pretty unique. “I went on philanthropic binges”, my word what a perspective. You just kind of wish there weren’t these guys exposing the man, and taking such pride in doing so. That Matt guy creeps me out and watching him following Mr. Landis around at the exhibition made me uncomfortable. “Is there anybody nice to talk to?” . Classic.

    Thanks for the post swiss..

    October 11, 2015 at 1:32 am #23099

    So glad you watched, Naturalust 🙂

    I agree with you: Matt’s obsession with debunking Mr. Landis was discomfiting. Mr. Landis reminded me a little but of Karl in Sling blade; I liked him quite a bit. He just has an unusual relationship with reality.

    thanks for posting that you watched and what you thought


    strawberries *and* blueberries

    October 11, 2015 at 8:32 am #23119

    Unfortunately I didn’t see it at IDFA and I can’t watch it in the link due to legal rights restrictions. It does remind me of this famous Dutch painter and gallery owner who is regarded as the #1 forger of the past century. I picked this from his Dutch website and gave it a quick translation:

    “On his own, he ridiculed and humiliated the entire international art world. He unmasked the snobbery, the greed and hypocrisy. Not just once but during several decades. Art experts and appraisers hate him. Auctioneers and museum directors do not want to be seen with him. Their frustrations are understandable. But there is a double standard especially among art dealers. They made him an outcast but in reality they have earned considerable fees on his paintings. Knowingly and willingly. Some of them ordered directly at him. Works by Appel, Chagall, Matisse, Mondrian, Dali, Miro, Picasso, Hockney, Klimt, Cocteau, Jorn, De Kooning, Andy Warhol, the list is long.

    The quality of his paintings is superb. Karel Appel was convinced it was his own and certified. When he was arrested in France in 1994 the police seized more than 1,600 masterpieces. Some of those paintings are original artwork with official certificates but not one expert managed to distinguish false from original. That’s the reason why he was released after six months: they could not prove he was guilty of anything. And there were no complaints from people who felt cheated. For that reason alone he is regarded by friend and foe as the greatest art forger of the past century. Even now he still discovers some of his work in catalogues and museums claiming to be a Matisse or a Chagall… Today he still paints in the style of the great masters but now under his own name: Geert Jan Jansen.”


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