Con Artist | Chicago Reader

Con Artist

If Mark Kostabi weren't a real person, this portrait of him might easily pass for a Borat-style mockumentary. One of the more controversial cultural figures in 1980s New York, this poseur-promoter-provocateur satirized the commodification and corruption of art by signing his name to canvases created by his underpaid assistants, and alienated the art-world elite by proclaiming that "fame is love" and "modern art is a con and I am the world's greatest con artist." Documentary maker Michael Sladek chronicles Kostabi's rise, fall, and resurrection (including a 2007 commission to sculpt a likeness of Pope John Paul II) while self-reflexively recording his own attempt to pierce the veil of irony that Kostabi (who's now reinvented himself as a cable-access talk-show host) drapes over himself and his self-avowed "addiction for publicity." This 2010 film is too long for its own good but provides an enlightening look at the go-go art boom of the '80s. In English and subtitled Italian.

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