Lombardi's spidery, elusive diagrams describing the evolution of the shadow-banking industry from a decades-old alliances between intelligence agencies, banking, government and organized crime, may have made him unique in art history as the only artist whose primary subject, the CIA, has turned around and studied him and his art work. Exhaustively researched, this is the first comprehensive biography of this immensely contradictory and brilliantly original artist.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-08-24
- Reviewer: Staff
The question of who murdered New York artist Mark Lombardi (1951–2000)—if, in fact, he was murdered—is clearly an intriguing one, but journalist Goldstone (Aaronsohn’s Maps) never really gets around to answering it in this meandering, overwritten biography of the controversial artist. Lombardi struggled in near obscurity until achieving some success in his 40s, but he was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment in March 2000, having apparently hanged himself. His best-known creations were intricate maps illustrating how one entity influenced or interacted with another, which he used to artfully illustrate the shady banking practices of BCCI and its connections with high-profile banks in Texas as well as the Bush family. It’s debatable whether Lombardi truthfully exposed collusion and conspiracies, though Goldstone points out that more than 20,000 of Lombardi’s notes and citations were seized by the FBI, and the revelation of the CIA’s connection to the Whitney Museum and MoMA—two prominent buyers of Lombardi’s work—is certainly enough to give one pause. Unfortunately Goldstone spends far too much time telling the Rashomon-like tale of the artist, particularly in his later years, as she pursues thread after thread with little analysis or conclusion, resulting in a tangled narrative as interlocked as its subject’s art. (Oct.)