Banksy by Will Ellsworth-Jones
The Man Behind the Wall

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Banksy’s stencils function best when he makes figures of authority look ridiculous. Their economy, wit and rawness carry an undeniably potent visual charge.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

While hiding from the limelight, Banksy has made himself into one of the world's best-known living artists. His pieces have fetched millions of dollars at prestigious auction houses. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his film Exit Through the Gift Shop. Once viewed as vandalism, his work is now venerated; fans have gone so far as to dismantle the walls that he has painted on for collection and sale.

But as famous as Banksy is, he is also utterly unknown—he conceals his real name, hides his face, distorts his voice, and reveals his identity to only a select few. Who is this man that has captivated millions? How did a graffiti artist from Bristol, England, find himself at the center of an artistic movement? How has someone who goes to such great lengths to keep himself hidden achieved such great notoriety? And is his anonymity a necessity to continue his vandalism—or a marketing tool to make him ever more famous?

Now, in the first ever full-scale investigation of the artist, reporter Will Ellsworth-Jones pieces together the story of Banksy, building up a picture of the man and the world in which he operates. He talks to his friends and enemies, those who knew him in his early, unnoticed days, and those who have watched him try to come to terms with his newfound fame and success. And he explores the contradictions of a champion of renegade art going to greater and greater lengths to control his image and his work.


Banksy offers a revealing glimpse at an enigmatic figure and a riveting account of how a self-professed vandal became an international icon—and turned the art world upside down in the process.

 

About Will Ellsworth-Jones

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Will Ellsworth-Jones was chief reporter and New York correspondent for The Sunday Times. He has written for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The San Francisco Examiner, and The Anniston Star. His last book, We Will Not Fight, was a history of conscientious objectors in the First World War. He lives in London.
 
Published March 1, 2012 by Aurum Press. 333 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Banksy
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Feb 17 2013

The graffiti artist Banksy’s work is immediately recognizable: clever, funny...

Read Full Review of Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Owen Hatherley on Jun 01 2012

That aesthetics is not the book's province is obvious...

Read Full Review of Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Peter Conrad on May 12 2012

Ellsworth-Jones writes perceptively about the "ethical dilemmas" created by Banksy's marketing techniques, yet still communicates the excitement of a "treasure hunt" for traces of his work in the scruffier purlieus of London.

Read Full Review of Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall | See more reviews from Guardian

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by ROBERT ENRIGHT on Feb 15 2013

Banksy’s stencils function best when he makes figures of authority look ridiculous. Their economy, wit and rawness carry an undeniably potent visual charge.

Read Full Review of Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

Reader Rating for Banksy
57%

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