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Banksy, The Man Behind The Wall

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  297 ratings  ·  52 reviews
For someone who shuns the limelight so completely that he conceals his name, never shows his face and gives interviews only by email, Banksy is remarkably famous.
From his beginnings as a Bristol graffiti artist, his artwork is now sold at auction for six-figure sums and hangs on celebrities' walls. The appearance of a new Banksy is national news, his documentary" Exit Thro
Paperback, 322 pages
Published May 2012 by Aurum Press Ltd (first published 2012)
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Disclaimer: this review is not authorized by Will Ellsworth-Jones, his agent, or his publisher (St. Martin’s Press). It is also not authorized by Banksy or Pictures on Walls, and has not been authenticated by Pest Control.

Seems like a lot of legalese to go through just to post a review, doesn’t it? The hoops one must go through to sell the wall Banksy painted for you when you were both up-and-coming street vandals is similarly rife with legal complications. Has it been authenticated by Pest Cont
Bob Boord
Like a long but well written magazine article. No great insights, but good general knowledge.
Paula Maguire
I enjoyed this book though it was a little slow at times as the writer seemed a little bit of an anorak, even detailing his emails to make a point. However it was a good introduction to the world of street art and graffiti artists. The code among artists, infights (Banksy and robbo) and how Banksy has achieved cult status among the impossibly trendy and among the super rich who can afford his art, all the while involved in huge publicity stunts and keeping anonymous at the same time.
I struggled
banksy, like graffiti and street art in general, often inspires impassioned reactions and fervent opinions. his artwork, speaking for itself as it so easily does, is seen either as mindless vandalism and wanton destruction of property or as creative expression and paint-based sociopolitical commentary. to many he is a countercultural figure or anti-authoritarian folk hero, yet to others just another malcontented urban hoodlum. regardless of your feelings on graffiti, there is no denying the bris ...more
Benjamin Featherston
If you are completely uninformed about the art world and read this book without any critical eye whatsoever, “Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall” is an entertaining, well-researched profile of a talented art phenomenon. If you are remotely versed in the visual arts, it can be a damned irritating read.

There's an incident described at the beginning of this book which lets us know what we are in for. Banksy sneaks into a series of “establishment” galleries and hangs his own defaced painting, to see ho
Brion O'quigley
Decently researched history of Banksy's rise from the streets into mainstream art. Having lived away the UK for so many decades, I did not know an awful lot about Banksy, so this book was a very enjoyable read for me. My impression of the book's author is that he started out attempting to be unbiased, but became an enthusiastic fan. And it doesn't hurt the book at all. The background is very well researched and where there is room for doubt, he mentions it. What I liked most about the book is th ...more
Christopher Douglas

Interesting book about Banksy and the street art movement, and Banksy's impact on the art market in general. Although it read as one long newspaper article, as a Banksy-phile I found it very interesting.
Banksy The Man Behind The Wall

Written by Will Ellsworth-Jones

Published by St Martin's Press New York

Official Release date February 12th 2013

I received this copy in a goodreads (firstreads) giveaway.

I went into this book knowing nothing about Banksy or graffiti for that matter.

When I started reading the book I decided not to look at any of Banksy's work until I was done. I read a review on Goodreads that said it would have been maybe a better reading experience if the author had included some ph
B.G.M. Hall
I generally think that people who scrawl grafitti on the walls (I refuse to call them "artists" or, as this book does "grafitti writers") are vandals who don't care about the property or rights of others, marking their territory in the same way, and with the same intellect, as a dog pissing on a hydrant.
And yet I find Banksy fascinating.
Mainly it's the contradictions: while he started as just another street tagger, he now runs a complicated, well-thought out operation. His stencil art incorporat
unauthorized (
banksy is totally anonymous, though has made movies of himself etc etc) bio, but not bad really. notes especially the tension between taggers and "artists", political and bored and dumb and brilliant too.
a good book for neophytes to have somebody else do the legwork of reseach into this big and somewhat controversial subject.
banksy is fairly enigmatic and sort of not to be trusted with HIS statements so this author does do some of his own analyzing of all this.
with the conspicuous
Stewart Tame
I have it on good authority that Banksy is one of The Residents. Fun book! As with so many art books, I would have appreciated more illustrations, but I'm certainly happy with the few present in this volume. Despite the unauthorized nature of this book, Ellsworth-Jones is decently respectful of Banksy's talent and privacy. His real name is not given--though, from the sound of things, it sounds as though it could easily be obtained if one were willing to do the research. Through interviews with c ...more
Exhaustively researched and well written, but likely a little too inside-baseball-y for anyone not well versed in the street art world. If that's your cup of tea, or you're someone that appreciates Banksy's implicit critique of both our high-brow art world and low-brow celebrity culture, then definitely check it out.
Jennifer Labelle
This book was really good, a very interesting and comprehensive look at Banksy. My only criticism is that I wish there were more photos of Banksy's work. Frequently the text referenced pieces of Banksy's that I wasn't familiar with, and there being no image of the piece in the book, I'd have to go look it up online. Otherwise, a great read that leaves a bit of the mystery that is part of what makes Banksy such an interesting character.
Alexandra Herkenhoff
Banksy 101. For those reading the portuguese version translated by Ivan Justen Santana: achei a tradução sofrível nos primeiros capítulos, mas depois acabei me acostumando. No geral o livro bem maneirinho, com muita informação sobre arte de rua em geral e tem boas indicações de sites, livros, filmes.
Karen Snyder
This book is a fascinating look into the graffiti world and commercialism of art. A honest and important read for all artists and anyone generally interested in art. I couldn't put the book down!
Susan Klinke
I'm really torn about Banksy. On the one hand I'm glad he's been able to make money from his art, but on the other hand I hate that his revolutionary spirit has been taken out of context and repackaged for consumption by those with money.
Margaret Cunningham
The book was ok although at times i found it tedious when author seems to just try to meet with anyone and everyone who once upon a time came into contact with Banksy in the hope to find out something that is not already in the public domain. Given the 'shroud of secrecy' surrounding Banksy predictably this was often met with reluctance from those loyal to the brand Banksy. With the lack of cooperation the author met the title of the book may have been more aptly named 'Banksy: The man behind th ...more
Wilde Sky
This account of an artist was a bit disappointing. It didn't really contain many details of the person or their artwork and it felt repetitive.
I received a copy of this book free through Goodreads First Reads.

This was a fascinating read. I have been a long tome fan of Banksy's art. This was a really interesting biography piece and details his career. I learned a great deal about the artist and work I never knew.

The major down side here is a lack of photographs. I had hoped when I won this book it would have his work in it as well. Sadly the cover-art is the only image you get! It is very strange to me having a book about an artist but
A highly informative read that looks into the work and history of high-profile graffiti artist Banksy. The book almost reads like an essay or dissertation; it is obvious that Ellsworth-Jones did his research before writing. I love that he even went on a 6-hour walking tour around London to see Banksy's works (or what's left of them) in person. As a graffiti appreciator, I enjoyed learning what goes on behind the scenes of Banksy's iconic pieces, as well as the insightful details about his journe ...more
Oct 02, 2012 Trey added it
Shelves: biography, nonfiction, art
This was a really informative book. Although it wasn't sanctioned by Banksy himself, the author had clearly done a lot of research and spoken with a lot of Banksy's friends past and present. Like a lot of biographies, I was forced to think about the artist in an unusual light and it changed my understanding of him. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, but either way, I feel like I know Banksy better now than I did before reading the book, and I would gladly recommend it to others.
Best unauthorised biography I've ever read because its unauthorised and there are no photographs of the subject and as the subject is unidentified the author can't really give much of a bio apart from exploring his art - which stands for itself. Clever!
Great exploration of the context of street art - in the street or in galleries.
My review in ArtGaze magazine here
I was apprehensive at first, this not being Banksy-authorised. However, I think it did a good job in researching as much as possible with available information about Banksy. I certainly have respect after reading this book, Banksy's ability to remain anonymous for so many years - I can quite understand that - the anonymity not only protects him and allows him to continue to practise street art if he so chooses, but it certainly gives a lot of creative freedom when you are "unknown".
Christian Richardsøn
A pretty enjoyable albeit short read. As it's not officially sanctioned by Banksy it allows the author a bit of freedom to skip through the sorts of extraneous detail typical of biographies and get straight to business.

I found it to be a quick read with much enjoyable subject matter. Well-structured, though perhaps lacking a bit of content to fuel it through at its high-level through to the end. Highly recommended read for anyone with a slight interest in Banksy!
I am a huge fan of Banksy but I found this book to be kind of pointless. He is a very secretive person and therein lies the problem in trying to write a biography on him. The author obviously spent a lot of time researching Banksy's art and his associates (a secretive bunch in their own right), however there really isn't much to write about on Banksy himself. Personally, I prefer to keep Banksy an unknown and just appreciate the art that he is creating.
Mitchell Malnati
While it read more like a thesis than a biography, the subject made it interesting. There were a few interesting revelations, particularly about Banksy's younger days, there was nothing revelatory about the Banksy man of mystery that we know today. Good read, but Exit Through the Giftshop is much more interesting to learn about Banksy.
Introduction to the world of street art and those who have moved it from straight up vandalism to political and social commentary......and in some circles art. Interesting to see how fame and secrecy have moved the work into the highly capitalistic world of collectability and what that does to the artistic spirit and free accessibility of the work.
H Wesselius
Banksy is an intriguing and mysterious figure. His art work is far more accessible than the modern art one finds in an art gallery yet he himself is not accessible. Although his identity is not revealed, Ellsworth-Jones reveals much about Banksy and the business that has become his art work. A fascinating tale especially if you enjoy Banksy's art.
Oct 06, 2013 Andrea is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Banksy is my latest obsession after seeing his film "Exit through the Gift Shop" and forming an admiration for graffiti artists like the elusive Banksy. Wonder how I can get to New York and see his latest work?
Rebecca Kent
This biography was fine if you knew nothing at all about Banksy. It's kind of introductory level stuff, and obviously as it not authorised and Banksy is so secretive, it relies mainly on cobbling together the tiny bits and pieces of public record. But it was generally an enjoyable read
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