By Mark Landis with Christen Shepherd


of a Master Art Forger

In 2013 a reporter for the London Financial Times, wrote a story about Mark Landis after he got wind that someone from the Oklahoma Museum of Art believed that someone was donating forged paintings by the Masters to museums all across the U.S. The donor did not use his real name and sometimes dressed as a Jesuit Priest, other times as landed gentry from the South. The reporter tracked him down to Laurel, Mississippi, a small town that is probably best known as the home of the popular home-renovation TV show, “Home Town.”

As it turned out, Mark Landis, is an unassuming, 68-year-old genius with an IQ of 150 who has spent most of his life in mental health facilities, mostly in Mississippi, bravely coping with schizophrenia. However, despite his mental illness, he has created not only flawless forgeries of the world’s greatest art, but also a memorable body of original art, which he is now willing to share with the public in this book.

Intrigued by the news stories about Landis, two filmmakers, Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman, contacted Landis and expressed interest in doing a film. The result was a 2014-released documentary that exposed America’s most talented art forger by making him the subject and star of an Emmy-nominated film, “Art and Craft.” As a result of media exposure, Landis was investigated by the FBI. He was not arrested for his forgeries because he never asked for money for the artwork and he never claimed them as donations on his income tax returns. In other words, he broke no laws with his deceptions.

Mark Landis is a genuinely likeable man who has had to overcome much in his lifetime. Despite the efforts of some to make him into a common criminal, his art fantasies were a threat to no one but himself. This is a book in which the reader can satisfy both intellectual and artistic palates. The tone and subject matter of the text is reminiscent of J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and the story of Mark Landis’ life and art is reminiscent of the life and art of Vincent van Gogh, who struggled with mental health issues throughout his lifetime. Despite the controversy of his forged paintings, Landis may just turn out to be the most important artist of our generation.


‘Things are seldom what they seem.’ — Mark Landis. Every so often someone comes along and holds up a fun-house mirror to the art world. For 30 years Mark Landis with his donated “forgeries” filled this role with verve and humor. While Landis is a serviceable painter, his true gift is his resourcefulness and audacity so well portrayed in the laugh-out-loud-funny documentary, “Art and Craft.” In this disarmingly candid autobiography, Landis displays an irresistible naiveté that belies his wide-ranging knowledge of art and the ability to devise a refreshingly innocent scheme that allowed him to hoodwink dozens of museum curators.

Birney Imes, author of Juke Joint, Whispering Pines and Partial to Home.


Little did I know when I first met Mark Landis in 2011 as we began filming the documentary Art and Craft, that he would impact me in the way that he has. His creativity and resourcefulness—an evidenced by his work—always inspire me, but it’s his mischievous sense of humor and particular point of view that define his true creative spirit. I’m happy that with Self-Portrait of a Master Art Forger more people will be able to spend time in his mind and in his world.

Jennifer Grausman, Director and Producer.

Image of Mark Landis

Photo Credit: Khaki Plott

Original Art by Mark Landis

Original Art by Mark Landis