'Art and Craft:' How Mark Landis became a forgery expert

Mark Landis
Mark Landis at home with recent works.
Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Mark Landis, better known as Father Arthur Scott, had the art world fooled.

Posing as a philanthropist, he donated forged works of art to museums throughout the United States. Filmmakers Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman were captivated by his story, and produced "Art and Craft," a documentary about his life and work.

From The Boston Globe review:

The documentary begins with Landis entering a Hobby Lobby to get materials. He later praises the selection of supplies at Walmart and Lowe's. The man is nothing if not practical -- craftsmanlike -- in going about his business. How do you "age" a painting? "The back is easy," Landis confides. "You just pour coffee on it."

We see him call a museum to arrange a donation and then present it in person. (Didn't the museum officials find it odd that a cameraman was accompanying Landis?) He sometimes makes donations pretending to be a Jesuit. We see him insert a piece of white cardboard to the front of his buttoned shirt collar and, voila, he's ordained. "The Church could use a guy like me," Landis says. "I'd be a good priest."

The film came out at the same time Orson Welles's 1973 "F for Fake" was released on Blu-ray. Welles' flick focused on Elmyr de Hory, another forger who was able to pass off his fakes as original works by the likes of Picasso and Matisse.

The "Art and Craft" directors join The Daily Circuit along with Mark Forgy, Twin Cities writer and Elmyr de Hory's former apprentice, to discuss the art of deception.

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