A tormented artist’s life and death.
An interlock search, explains reporter Goldstone (Aaronsohn's Maps: The Untold Story of the Man Who Might Have Created Peace in the Middle East, 2007, etc.), is “a type of flowchart used in anti-trust litigation and accounting that involves graphing the relationships between interlocking boards of directors.” That construction formed the basis of works by conceptual artist Mark Lombardi (1951-2000), a paranoid, opinionated conspiracy theorist whose mission in life and art was “to connect all the scandals of his generation into one huge interlock,” from the Kennedy assassination to the bombing of the World Trade Center. Described by his family as “a hellion and a chronic envelope-pusher,” Lombardi earned the nickname “Mighty Mouth” because of his endless harangues. “He not only grabbed your ear, he bent and twisted it,” a friend said. The author speculates that Lombardi’s obsession with interlocks of banking, politics, the CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and foreign potentates stemmed from his being fired from his first job at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. “Forbidden knowledge of the clandestine alliances between master class and underworld gave him a giddy rush of power,” writes the author, and “a weapon against the fraternity that had disadvantaged him.” Despite his difficult personality, Lombardi found champions: for example, the Texas lawyer and legislator Sissy Farenthold, a “glamorously melancholy society rebel” who pitted herself against Gov. John Connally and his “Gorgon’s nest of allied business interests.” With Farenthold’s help, Lombardi became a fixture of the Houston art scene, and his work came to the attention of the prestigious Drawing Center in New York, which invited him to participate in a group show. Interest from other galleries and museums soon followed. Goldstone has impressively mined the artist’s archives and interviewed many who knew him, dutifully recording all their contradictory gossip, but readers may have a difficult time finding sympathy for the author’s subject.
An exhausting deluge of information about a man many remember as a “natural-born hustler.”