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Art and 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.

“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.” 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.

“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.
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.

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.

The documentary’s coup de grace is capturing an exhibit dedicated to Landis’ forgeries. 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.
- Rodrigo Perez, IndieWire

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