User Reviews (12)

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  • comicman1179 December 2014
    Art and Craft is one of the most fascinating documentaries about art that I have ever seen. It's well made, well put together, and delivers a very satisfying experience overall. In fact, this film fascinated me more than some live action movies have.

    Art and Craft is a documentary that follows a few days in the life of famous art forger, Mark. A Landis. Mr. Landis is a savant who has spent 30 years deceiving museums with his drawings by making them believe that they actually have art by a famous artist, when, in fact it's just him. Landis has the amazing ability to copy a painting almost exactly like the original artist, although Landis is not a very good artist, rarely paints original art of his own, and prefers instead to cheat and copy. This film explores Landis as we see him go through his childhood, learn how he became obsessed with art, how his fraud was eventually exposed, and also see him prepare for an exhibit based upon his "fake" work.

    This documentary was a very pleasant surprise. After weeks of films that were okay, but lackluster, Art and Craft's high quality was a breath of fresh air. This documentary doesn't portray Landis as a criminal or villain, or glorify him as some sort of hero. Instead, it just portrays him as a real human being who is a curiously strange person. In total, Landis has given 47 forged paintings to 46 art museums around America. In the film, we see interviews with Landis himself where he explains why he became a forger, what his life is like, and his understanding of his mental problems. We also see interviews with people who have met Landis, or people who worked at various art museums that Landis has tried to give forged paintings to, and how they may or may not see him as a villain. This documentary method is quite effective and allows us to see perspective from both sides.

    Some of the directing choices in this film were interesting as well. Filmmakers Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman really show they know how to use a camera. Sequences such as the one where we see Landis's photo gallery and his forged art really help to emphasize him as a person. While I quite liked how the regular scenes kept being intercut with movie clips from films like Casablanca and Charlie Chan, as Landis is shown to be a bit of a classic film fan, having grown up watching a lot of television and movies.

    Art and Craft is a wonderfully made documentary about one of the most fascinating characters of real life art. I've watched plenty of great documentaries in the past, but this one reminds me of why I find filmmaking to be interesting in the first place. I definitely recommended this film.
  • I really wish the film Art and Craft had been made a few years ago before I retired from teaching. This is because in my psychology classes, I occasionally showed my students films about strange people and we'd discuss the possible diagnoses that you could give to the folks portrayed in the film. Well, in the case of Art and Craft, this really would have opened up some wonderful discussions, as the man featured in this documentary, Mark Landis is one odd character...and that's putting is mildly!

    So what is it about Mark that makes him unusual you may ask. Well, he's a world-class forger and has made hundreds of copies of great works of art. This in of itself is not so unusual. Hold on to your hats. Mark then DONATES these paintings to various art galleries across the United States! He receives no money for this and his only reward is knowing that he's tricked the museums into hanging his fakes. In some cases, he's even gone to extremes to put over these fakes--such as posing as a priest or a variety of other people!

    At this point you are probably wondering what makes him tick--and that is what makes the film so interesting. Landis is obviously mentally ill--but not necessarily in a traditional sense. Does he have a personality disorder? Well, a true antisocial personality would do this for money and personal gain--but where is the gain? He's been diagnosed as schizophrenic and I'll admit that he's odd and a tad delusional-- but can such a person normally be able to convince so many people that he's a great philanthropist?! He also reminds me quite a bit of someone with an Autism Spectrum disorder, as his social skills are incredibly poor in some ways and he has a savant-like ability to copy paintings almost exactly. Yet, interestingly, he cannot make anything really original. His one 'original' picture that he talks about is just a drawing of a photograph. So, he's an amazing artist with no apparent ability to abstract or create something on his own.

    But there is still far more to the story--including another individual who sure shows a lot of Obsessive-Compulsive traits--so much so that he appears to have given up his job in order to follow Landis and identify his fakes! All in all , this is one very strange documentary...but also one that you cannot stop watching because it IS so strange and compelling. Additionally, some of the special features on the DVD (which came out this week) are pretty interesting. So why an A- and not a higher score? Because although the film is interesting, it does leave a lot unsaid and unexplained- -such as how Landis can afford his supplies and to travel the country posing as a philanthropist even though he has no job. Odd but definitely worth your time.
  • chris-233-20169910 February 2015
    For film that mainly focuses on documenting an odd, old man with very strange behavior, it's very well put together and is fascinating to watch.

    As for the critique on here about not exploring the "Why?" surround his behavior, I think the film let's you answer that yourself. It presents all the information in a neutral way and doesn't form an opinion or spoon feed the viewer. Perhaps there is are no answers to - Does he know what he's doing? Is he a bad person? Is he malicious or does he think he's helping in some way? It's a tribute to the film that you aren't left with answers.

    You'll be talking about this film long afterwards.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This documentary is both weird and remarkable at the same time, and I found myself truly fascinated from beginning to end.

    It focuses on the art copier, or art "forger" as some would call him, Mark Landis, who was living in Laurel, Mississippi at the time of the filming. Since Landis was a child, he's had this amazing ability to copy famous art works, with materials he purchases mainly from local businesses.

    He's so prolific and expert in this that he has gifted over 100 pieces of art, over a 30 year span to 46 museums in 20 U.S. states. Using the ruse that a member of his family had passed away and thus he wanted to donate from their estate these "valuable" art pieces for display in their museums. Without doing their due diligence, most of these museums gladly accepted his gifts and proudly hung them in their galleries.

    When he was 17-years-old Landis suffered a nervous breakdown, after his father died. Ever since, he's been diagnosed with serious mental health issues, and you see him going to a mental health clinic several times in the film. However, as long as he stays on his meds and is not a danger to himself or others, he can function in society.

    The former Chief Registrar at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Matthew Leininger, is also prominently featured in the documentary. He became aware of what Landis was perpetuating and even though he hasn't been with the museum for quite awhile, he remains quite obsessed to expose Landis, because he feels it's not right and is a fraud. However, the former founder of the FBI Art Crime team, Robert K. Wittman, says in the movie that he doesn't consider what Landis is doing a crime, because he's not receiving any compensation for his "gifts". By the time, Landis meets Leininger, towards the end of the film, I just found myself emotionally rooting for Landis.

    In summary, I found this documentary to be highly unique and felt it was presented in such a way that I was riveted throughout and wondering how it would all turn out.
  • kimba1178-126 January 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    I've seen a number of documentaries, but certainly I lean more toward mainstream entertainment. This film was far more interesting than any movie I've seen lately. That includes the 12 year "gimmick" that might soon win the best picture Oscar.

    Art and Craft is simply well made. Mr. Landis' story is told in a creative way and the various factors of his influence are often offered with subtlety. While many scenes appear just straight forward capturing of moments leading up to the exhibit in Cincinnati, they are clearly well thought out to paint their own picture of the man.

    He is a fascinating subject and worthy of study and discussion whether in respect to his level of talent, the con of the industry, or his medical conditions. Another reviewer was disappointed that the "why?" wasn't explored more. I do think it's explored during a number of scenes, but I accept that it might not be loud enough.

    Spoiler- In one scene Mr. Landis makes a quiet point that I believe should have received more attention. The way it's shown in the documentary, it's easy to miss. I think it's during the trip to the supermarket. Paraphrasing here- he says that he liked how people reacted to him while he was being a philanthropist. I get it. We all should after seeing this film.

    While watching even his medical specialists who are supposed to care both for him, and about him, you can see people quickly dismissing the man. They ask the questions that they should and move on quickly to the next question to check off their list. They do their jobs, and possibly even well; but they don't really look at him or hear him the way I'm sure the curators and museum caretakers did while getting excited about donations. Suddenly he had some actual focus from other human beings. We're all human. We know the difference from real interest and someone just going through the motions. He does give us multiple "whys" in the movie and how interesting it that? It was fascinating to me.

    The only other point that I wish they had touched on even more was to show folks letting Mr. Landis know in stronger terms that we do believe in him and that he does have a place in the art world if he will redirect his talents. Mr. Landis- people would pay for original works from you with joy and appreciation.
  • blanche-21 March 2016
    "Art and Craft" from 2014 is about art forger Mark Landis.

    Mark Landis is an odd person with ears that stick out. He looks like he's about 70, except at the time of the film, he was 59. He speaks softly, sometimes in incomplete thoughts.

    And he has a strange hobby. He copies art and donates the art to museums, taking no money or tax deduction, and claims that it was his mother or sister Emily's wish that the museum have this particular piece. He doesn't have a sister Emily.

    After years, an art registrar, Mark Leininger, caught onto him as he was doing his due diligence on some of the donated art. He realized that there were as many as six copies of the same painting donated around the country.

    He actually hasn't broken any laws because it was up to the museum experts whether or not to accept the art.

    Leininger decided to give Landis an art show, where viewers would be able to see the frauds and learn about them. Leininger said that he had no idea what he would say when he saw him - what he said was, "Glad to see you." He's such an unassuming man, you can't see him as evil. And he isn't. Mischievous maybe.

    The documentary is really remarkable - to see this man put on a priest collar - he gave away art using several aliases, pick up a briefcase, and, slumped over, walk to his car and go to the next museum. One of Leininger's theories about Landis is that he likes putting one over on the experts. He was encouraged at the show to display his talent by painting his own original works.

    An only child, Landis was very close to both of his parents and had a nervous breakdown when his father died. He took care of his mother after Katrina, and her death is still very upsetting to him. His apartment is filled with her things and photos. He now goes to Menninger Clinic and sees a psychiatrist there and receives medication. He's a sad man, but doing the art work gives him adventures.

    The most interesting thing about this documentary is Landis himself, though seeing how he does the forgeries is fascinating. He is very talented, and he gives the copy place a lot of business (he does a lot with copying things to different sizes).

    Recommended -- no question, he's an oddball. Not sure what he's doing now - he said at the end he really can't continue giving away art work, now that everyone has his number. But he did put on that priest collar...don't put anything past him.
  • This documentary serves as two very interesting character studies. One on Mark Landis, showing us his recreations of classic art pieces, why he does it, and small aspects of his personal life. The other being the man who is set out to find Landis and get him to stop. Landis is obsessed with his forgeries. While the man set to find him is just as obsessed with stopping him. Overall very enjoyable. I definitely recommend it.
  • highly recommended for person who is interested in art and psychology. this documentary is very original and almost unbelievable. it captures the life of an introverted artistic genius with OCD and mother issues. his madness played a part in his seclusive attitude. it takes a person with some kind of obsessive personality to copy artwork with precision and fool dozens of major museums and universities. This guy was no joke and he did all his amazing work while watching TV with a TV dinner. no kidding. I am an artist and I appreciated his genius. the other guy trying to bring him out as a "fake" is also insane for following a topic that not even major universities and museums wanted continue investigating. most importantly I don't believe that he is a bad person because he followed what he loved and only donated his hobby.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What a bizarre tale, offering an interesting contrast to the case of Wolfgang Beltracchi and other mercenary, opportunistic falsificateurs such as Guy Ribes. (Note that none of these men attempt to create exact forgeries of existent works by an artist X but instead create new works ¨in the manner of X¨). But as Mark Landis himself sagely observes, ¨Everyone is the same but everyone is different." I must say that Landis bears an eerie resemblance to Norman Bates, with his strange persona and evident obsession with his mother. Fortunately, he is not a murderer, just an artist who found an odd way to achieve affirmation by the art world.

    In the end, this film actually reveals more about the institution of art than the artist, just as in the case of films about Beltracchi, GIbes, Banksy, et al. Raises some interesting questions about psychiatry as well, given that Landis was hospitalized and heavily medicated at the age of seventeen, right after his father died, which was very traumatic to him. One has to wonder whether all the drugs he was continuously plied with did not have something to do with what he eventually became. He seems to have lived off of both an inheritance and public disability aid, obviating the need to work or derive money from his fakes, at least as far as I can gather from the film.

    I am pretty sure that if Landis had tried to donate his fake paintings to larger, more famous institutions with more sophisticated staff persons, he would have been discovered much sooner. I imagine that the curators who were duped are thoroughly humiliated, especially given that some of his techniques were so brash. Xeroxing a picture and using it as a physical layer of the final art work? Really?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I just seen this documentary an hour ago on the Sky Arts Channel and I have to say this is kinda the weirdest art documentary I've ever watched. The skinny guy Mark Landis looks so zoned and depressed looking that poor fella looks like a 70 year old for a 60 year old. I suppose, when he was caught by donating the art of the artists he copied by giving them to museums, it probably has shaken him a lot. I say if he didn't have to be doing that, he would've been one of the best artists out there. He is, but he just seems to be somewhere else because of what happened effected him.

    I'm sure he has his own talents of course, everyone does! It just seems that the whole "forging" event took a toll on him. I have to say, this documentary was interesting at the same time because I have never heard of Landis before and like, I wasn't aware of what happened back in 2007. I wonder if hes still doing art right now or has given up completely after making this documentary?
  • SteveJ_8889 April 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Art and Craft is an excellent documentary film. In a similar approach sometimes used by Errol Morris, the the filmmakers simply get out of the way and let the main character and other real participants tell the story. There is no expert analysis or moralizing.

    Mark copies artworks and then donates the forgeries to various museums, passing them off as the originals. He truly believes he is doing nothing wrong or illegal.

    The story is a somewhat sad one. Mark has talent, but he never has had the guidance to help him reach his potential. Mark also has good social skills. He is polite and sells his product convincingly. He has some mental health issues, but most of his treatment seems to have been medication.

    Mark's belief that he is doing nothing wrong is interesting. While no one seems to condone his actions, no one seems willing to deeply condemn him either. His actions aren't extremely vicious or hurtful, but there is a violation against society taking place. the violation itself is provocative, and causes people to examine the relationship between art and the viewer. That kind of discussion is often said to be one of the purposes of art.

    Though the story is somewhat sad, there is something redemptive as well. When Mark is given the opportunity to exhibit the forgeries he agrees to participate, and things go well.

    Another interesting character in the movie is Matthew, who is a museum curator duped by Mark. At first his is extremely angry at the deception. He becomes somewhat obsessed with Mark and works on his own time to locate and expose as many of Mark's donated forgeries as he can. Ultimately Matthew is able to turn the experience into something positive. Instead of being vengeful, he sees it as a learning experience. The face-to-face interaction between him and Mark is amusing rather than painful to watch.

    Did Mark really hurt anyone - or only their pride? Do the forgeries succeed as art on some level? When we look at a Monet or Picasso do we see the work or do we see a work by Monet or Picasso? If so, is that perception as false as Mark's forgeries?
  • boblipton6 January 2015
    5/10
    Why?
    Warning: Spoilers
    So, this guy goes to this museum and says that he wishes to donate a painting by a well-regarded, if minor artist in memory of a dead loved one. Later on, it turns out he has done this hundreds of times over the decades and it wasn't noticed for twenty or thirty years. He donates the works. He doesn't even take a tax deduction. The forgeries are fairly crude, often photocopies with some extra paint poured over them.

    Is it a practical joke? Performance art? An indictment of the so-called experts at museums? Whatever it is, that's what Mark A. Landis has been doing for several decades and when two museum guys realized this, they were angry. Unfortunately, they can't do a thing about it, because Mr. Landis did nothing illegal. They do call him various forms of crazy.

    I do that too when someone pulls some hoax off on me. It serves me right to fall for it.

    That's what this documentary is about and it never answers the question "why?" Probably because the answer would embarrass people.