Art and Craft, A Film that Helps to Keep the Topic of Art Forgeries Relevant
The Documentary "Art and Craft"
Art and Craft is a new documentary out by Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker that explores the convoluted world of Mark Landis, an infamous art forger. With post-production funded through a Kickstarter campaign that raised $65,845, the film is now showing in festivals around the world to rave reviews.
The film presents a very captivating look into the life of Mark Landis whose particular calling spans thirty years. With a drive to create for philanthropic reasons not monetary, which is why he has never been prosecuted, his masterful skills in copying masters such as Matisse, Picasso, Walt Disney, and Paul Signac have fooled multiple institutions who have accepted his donations across the United States. Besides the discussion the film brings up as to each museum’s responsibility for due diligence and Landis’ own despondent mental state, an interesting topic it presents is: should forged art still be considered authentic art?
Forged Art Today
After all, the new fad these days in the art world is to display forged art in the context of its counterfeit as it presents an educational opportunity and a fresh way to engage with viewers. Such an example is the landmark exhibition “Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World” that opened at the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, Massachusetts this past January and is currently touring. Featuring famous forgers Han van Meegeren, Elmyr de Hory, Eric Hebborn, John Myatt and Mark Landis, it examines how they used artful methodology to fool the experts and the art world. Landis himself even received an exhibition, Faux Real in 2012 with his works marked “In the style of…” which one could argue is appropriate given that his name was listed as the artist instead of his usual illegal method. However one could also argue that displaying such items in a museum or gallery setting only encourages people to create them.
At the same time, what is an artist to do when their works are not taken seriously but they have a gift? That is what drives most forgers, the rejection of their own art. There is a need to still create, so they create what they know people want. This sadly has consequences on the art world as artistic energies get put elsewhere instead of developing unique talent. The art world is a difficult one, with most artists only becoming famous after their deaths, so what is one to do? Well in Landis’ case become one of the best art forgers in the world, but the consequences on the authentic art, institutions, and market is disastrous.
Consequences of Forging Art
By inundating the market with forgeries, the market essentially dies because collectors will not purchase and the influx drives the price down making that particular artist worthless. For the art itself, having fakes of exact works means the authenticity of the original is in question if it is in a private collection or the location is unknown. For institutions in particular, purchasing forgeries and having them in the collection diminishes their reputation and impacts the collection negatively. Therefore forgeries do no good and cause a wide range of damage, but they exist and have to be dealt with which is why constantly bringing the issue to light, though touchy, is much needed. If we continually address the issue, discuss it and present it in educational manners then people will learn, be better informed, and open to dealing with it in new ways, which is what the art world needs.