• Love Rat, by Banksy

The new book Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall, by British journalist Will Ellsworth-Jones, is sure to spark a renewed interest in the artist’s identity and the perennial debate that surrounds his credentials. Banksy catches a lot of shit—for being a child of privilege, for being a sell-out, for trafficking in puerile and simplistic imagery, and for his anonymity—which many regard as a shtick. And while he may, as the book alleges, be the product of a private Catholic school education rather than the blue-collar rebel we’d like him to be (Ellsworth-Jones never interviewed Banksy, whose identity is still unconfirmed), Banksy, for me, remains an iconoclast and an important artist. Yes, his work sells for millions at auctions and is collected by movie stars like Brad Pitt. Yes, he has staged elaborate shows, published books, and even directed a documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award. But Banksy’s forays into the mainstream don’t change the graceful and subversive nature of his art.