REVIEW — “Art & Craft”
If you could perfectly forge famous artwork, but never charged for it, is it a crime? “Art and Craft” explores the life of Mark Landis who has done exactly that for the past few decades.
Mark Landis is a very interesting individual. It’s apparent from the first moment we are introduced to him that he is suffering from a number of mental maladies, some of which we learn of specifically later in the film. Regardless of what conditions may plague him, he is an extremely talented individual. Why is it that so many of the truly gifted are also tormented? Landis has the extraordinary ability to replicate a vast variety of styles to create counterfeit replicas of famous artwork. What makes him unique is that he doesn’t try to benefit financially from these deceptive works, he’s never sold a single knockoff. Instead he goes on what he dubs “philanthropic binges” gifting them to various museums across the lower US. Sometimes posing as a widow, surviving family member, or pastor, he passes these off to unexpecting curators who apparently go blind the moment they hear “free” or “gift.”
After educating us on Landis and his unique personality, we are then introduced to his nemesis, Matthew Leininger, a curator he once duped. In Captain Ahab fashion, Leininger became obsessed with bringing Landis to justice. Leininger took this deception very personally, he lost respect within the art community, and even lost his job due to his vendetta. It’s an interesting dynamic, the man who thinks he is providing a service, and the man who wants to destroy the one who made him look like a fool.
Overall, the film is interesting, primarily since the subject is such a fascinating individual. Unfortunately, it suffers a bit on content. There isn’t enough conflict, resolution, or closure to drive the story. It is quite interesting but feels a bit thin for a 90 minute feature. Pared down to a 45 minute feature it would have been very fascinating, but at 90 it plays like an over-extended SNL flick and leaves too many questions unanswered. Fascinating but a bit light and leaves us wanting more.
4 out of 5 Stars