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.
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 Through the Gift Shop was Oscar-nominated and people queue for hours to see his latest exhibition. Now more National Treasure than edgy outsider, who is Banksy and how did he become what he is today?
In the first attempt to tell the full story of Banksy’s life and career, Will Ellsworth-Jones pieces together a picture of his world and unpicks its contradictions. Whether art or vandalism, anti-establishment or sell-out, Banksy and his work have become a cultural phenomenon and the question ‘Who is Banksy?’ is as much about his career as it is ‘the man behind the wall’.
'Britain's unlikeliest national treasure' Independent
‘A fascinating portrait that elicits admiration for a man who, despite his increasingly unconvincing efforts to retain some shred of his vandal status, has had an undeniable impact on art’ The Times/div