October 28, 2021

Banksy Completed

Banksy Completed

by Carol Diehl

Published October 26, 2021
by The MIT Press

Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Arts & Photography | Nonfiction (Adult) | Politics


There’s more to Banksy than the painting on the wall: the first in-depth investigation into the mysteries of the world’s most famous living artist.

Banksy is the world’s most famous living artist, yet no one knows who he is. For more than twenty years, his wryly political and darkly humorous spray paintings have appeared mysteriously on urban walls around the globe, generating headlines and controversy. Art critics disdain him, but the public (and the art market) love him. With this generously illustrated book, artist and critic Carol Diehl is the first author to probe the depths of the Banksy mystery. Through her exploration of his paintings, installations, writings, and Academy Award-nominated film, Exit through the Gift Shop, Diehl proves unequivocally that there’s more to Banksy than the painting on the wall.

Seeing Banksy as the ultimate provocateur, Diehl investigates the dramas that unfold after his works are discovered, with all of their social, economic, and political implications. She reveals how this trickster rattles the system, whether during his month-long 2013 self-styled New York “residency” or his notorious Dismaland of 2015, a full-scale dystopian “family theme park unsuitable for children” dedicated to the failure of capitalism. Banksy’s work, Diehl shows, is a synthesis of conceptual art, social commentary, and political protest, played out not in museums but where it can have the most effect–on the street, in the real world. The questions Banksy raises about the uses of public and private property, the role of the global corporatocracy, the never-ending wars, and the gap between artworks as luxury goods and as vehicles of social expression, have never been more relevant.


I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of research the author sourced for this book about an artist known for his anonymity. She presents both sides of the discussions about “street art”: the controversy over whether it is a true art form, monetization of “art in place’, and the value that is placed on art at auctions. I gained a much deeper understanding of the artist, his methodology and political stance, and an even greater respect for his art. I am very grateful to have had this rare access to Banksy and to the art world in general.

Thank you to NetGalley and MIT Press for this advance review copy.

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