For about 30 years, prolific forger Mark Landis has copied prominent artists' work and donated it to museums, often using aliases. At least some of the institutions later discover the art is fake. Of the more than 100 pieces he is estimated to have donated across the country, 40 are featured in the exhibit Faux Real at the University of Cincinnati. This is Landis version of a work by French painter Paul Signac.
At right is a Mark Landis forgery of an original painting by Paul Signac, a French painter. The original was titled "Tug Boat and Barge in Samois." The original currently hangs in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. At left is the catalogue that Landis worked from to create the forgery.
A copy of a French academic drawing by Mark Landis, who made many copies of artwork in an assembly-line style which he attributed to a grandfather who worked in automobile manufacturing.
Aaron Cowan, director of galleries at the University of Cincinnati and co-curator of the Faux Real exhibit, works with the Jesuit priest apparel Landis has worn. In addition to using aliases when donating his forged art, Landis also dressed as Jesuit priest.
A Mark Landis forgery of a painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a 19th century French painter. The original was titled "Yvonette." Landis says he first donated a forged painting to a museum to please his mother and honor his father, then became addicted to the VIP treatment he received from museum staff when making a donation.
The same painting under a black, or ultraviolet, light, a tool used to spot forgeries. Landis often donated to smaller institutions which have fewer resources to vet donations.
A Mark Landis forgery of an original painting by Pablo Picasso. The original is titled "A Portrait de Lora."
A Mark Landis forgery of the painting "Holy Family with St. Anne and Two Angels." The original artist was German-born Hans Van Aachen who worked in the late 1500s and 1600s and who was known for his portraits and religious and historical scenes. Landis donated this forgery to Cabrini High School in New Orleans. Landis never received payment or claimed tax deductions for his donations, and he has never been charged with a crime.
A Mark Landis forgery of a work by the French painter Jean-Atoine Watteau.