The New York Times, March 25, 2000
Mark Lombardi, 48, an Artist Who Was Inspired by Scandals
By ROBERTA SMITH
Mark Lombardi, an artist whose elegant, minutely detailed diagrams of political and financial scandals brought a distinctive voice to late Conceptualism, was found hanged in his loft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Wednesday evening, the police said. He was 48.
A spokesman for the 90th Precinct in Williamsburg said that a autopsy had been ordered by the medical examiner.
As an artist, Mr. Lombardi was an unusual case: a late bloomer who developed his mature style after the age of 40, but who was experiencing the rapid ascent of a younger artist.
One of his large drawings, an airy composition of small circles and crisscrossing arced lines that resembled rose windows or fanciful architectural rendering, is included in the "Greater New York" exhibition at P.S. 1 in Long Island City.
Mr. Lombardi's interest in presenting pure information qualified him as a Conceptual artist, but in many ways he was an investigative reporter after the fact.
He liked to say that his drawings were probably best understood by the newspaper reporters who had covered the scandals he diagrammed.
Sometimes measuring as much as 10 feet across, these drawings nonetheless had tremendous visual verve, delicately tracing the convoluted unfoldings of contemporary morality tales like the savings and loan scandal, Whitewater, Iran-contra and the Vatican bank scandal.
The small circles in his drawings identified the main players -- individuals, corporations and governments -- along a time line. The arcing lines showed personal and professional links, conflicts of interest, malfeasance and fraud.
Solid lines traced influence, dotted lines traced assets and wavy lines traced frozen assets. Final denouements like court judgment, bankruptcy and death were noted in red.
Mr. Lombardi, who was born in Syracuse in 1951, received a bachelor's degree in art history from Syracuse University. After graduating from college he moved to Houston, where he worked briefly as an assistant curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Mr. Lombardi ran a small gallery while making abstract paintings on the side. He began making his drawings in 1993, inspired by a doodled diagram he had made while talking on the phone to a banker friend about the savings and loan scandal.
Reading several newspapers a day, he culled his information entirely from published sources, keeping track of the articles with a card file that eventually held over 12,000 cards.
Mr. Lombardi began exhibiting his drawings in Houston in 1995. He came to wider attention in a group show at the Drawing Center in SoHo in 1997.
He moved to New York and had his first solo show, "Silent Partners," in 1998 at Pierogi 2000, a gallery in Williamsburg.
His second show, "Vicious Circles," was at the Devon Golden Gallery in Chelsea in 1999.
Mr. Lombardi, whose marriage ended in divorce, is survived by his parents, Donald A. and Shirley Rolfe Lombardi, of Manlius, N.Y.; two sisters, Lisa La Rue of Clayton, N.Y., and Laura Miels of Hopkinton, N.H.; and a brother, Matthew Lombardi, of Anselmo, Calif.