Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall

Will Ellsworth-Jones. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-02573-9
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It’s perfectly true that, as subversive street artist Banksy has said, “Art comes alive in the arguments you have about it.” Journalist Ellsworth-Jones (We Will Not Fight) chronicles the Banksy phenomenon from the streets to the upscale auction houses, while exploring the lively issues that Banksy has raised since becoming a novelty in the art market, one who now leads a fairly lucrative operation cloaked in secrecy. Bound to fuel more “sell-out” criticism, Ellsworth-Jones’s vivid portrait shows Banksy attempting to hold on to the spirit of the graffiti subculture while simultaneously forsaking it. Banksy once deplored galleries as “‘trophy cabinets for a handful of millionaires,’” though he is now one of the “trophies.” His anonymity has added to his intrigue and become a “marketing tool,” according to Banksy’s friend and peer Shepard Fairey. Paradoxically, Banksy has used lawyers and contracts like a “control-freak.” (Banksy prevented one of Ellsworth-Jones’s interviews with another graffiti artist, and through his authentication agency demanded the book be marked “unofficial”). Nevertheless, Ellsworth-Jones clearly respects Banksy’s art, and celebrates how the artist ushered the masses out of “the wilderness” and “into the art world.” (Some, however, will disagree with his claim that without Banksy “there would be not be a street art market.”) Whether a Banksy follower or not, a reader will find this excellent contemporary art story speaks volumes about celebrity. Agent: Melissa Chinchillo, Fletcher and Co. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2012
Release date: 02/12/2013
Hardcover - 322 pages - 978-1-84513-699-4
Open Ebook - 458 pages - 978-1-84513-845-5
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-250-02574-6
Paperback - 322 pages - 978-1-78131-040-3
Paperback - 322 pages - 978-1-78131-034-2
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