Directed by Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman
“Nothing’s original under the sun, you know. Everything goes back to something.” These are the first words we hear Mark Landis say in Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman’s biographical portrait film, ART AND CRAFT. Landis should know the truth behind these words. He is considered to be one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. After 30 years in the “business”, he was finally exposed in 2008 and he must now come to terms with all that he has done.
Landis finds the concept of copying to be reassuring. With that statement alone, you know that he is not your typical forger. He has battled mental illness his entire life and partaking in what he essentially views as arts and crafts, helps to steady his mind. In his 30 year “artistic” career, Landis never sold any of his forgeries. Instead, he would donate his works, hundreds of them, to different museums around the country. Profit was not his purpose but rather it seemed that he found satisfaction in fooling people. Not only was he able to pull one over on people who were supposed to know a thing or two about art, but then his works, regardless of their originality, would hang in museums and fool thousands of spectators across the country. The man himself seems so delicate and simple that it is hard to believe that even deception was his main motivation. Yet there he is, telling lies like a pro.
To see the ease with which Landis is able to recreate these apparent masterpieces is shocking, to say the least. It almost makes you wonder if so much reverence should have ever been afforded some of these supposed geniuses. In the end, Landis is a total enigma, which makes ART AND CRAFT, a great work of art in its own right, and an original one at that.