5 Great Pieces of Anti-Capitalist Artwork

Greed, exploited resources and widening economic disparities have lead an increasing number of people to question the very principles of capitalism. In addition to articulating these thoughts in words, some have tried a more creative approach to express their feelings about a system where money is worshipped. Here are five great artworks contributing to the conversation:

1. Southern-California painter Alex Schaefer takes his talents to the streets, where he paints neighborhood bank buildings. He starts by creating a realistic rendering of the bank, then finishes the artwork by having the building engulfed in flames.

As Schaefer paints, police have intervened on at least two occasions, afraid his work might be a threat of actual damage to the buildings. However, for Schaefer, the burning banks are just artistic expression and part of an exhibit entitled “Disaster Capitalism.”

Photo from JetSetGraffiti.com

2. Italian street artist Blu pulled no punches when he was invited to paint a large mural on the outer-wall of a MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) building in Los Angeles. Targeting the military industrial complex and the elite who profit from wars, he created a series of coffins draped in dollar bills.

The mural was only on display for a short time, however. MOCA claimed it was inappropriate to have an anti-war mural so close to a Veterans’ Affairs Hospital and a monument honoring Japanese American soldiers and had the mural painted over. Still, the fact that a symbol of capitalism driving the war machine needed to be censored demonstrates how deep the problem is.

Photo from Sebastian Errazuriz’s website

3. Artist Sebastian Errazuriz took a more guerrilla approach to art when he quietly altered street lines with white paint to turn them into dollar signs. The project, which he calls “Wall Street Nation” is meant to show capitalism creeping into every facet of our lives.

“The goal is to express the fear and impotence that people are currently experiencing while seeing the growing greed that is transforming the way we live,” Errazuriz said. He encourages others to edit street lines in their own communities to get the conversation flowing outside of New York City as well.

4. Renowned but mysterious graffiti artist Banksy has made a name for himself by putting up renegade art that attacks not only capitalism, but our political world at large. This 2004 image combines the iconic photo of a Vietnamese girl fleeing after being burned by a napalm attack with two commercially iconic figures: Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald.

The juxtaposition highlights the consumerist culture designed to distract us from the atrocities going on around us. The troubling satire asks whether these cherished characters are actually helping to create a better world or contributing to the problems at hand.

Photo by boodoo

5. “Capitalism Works for Me!” is a traveling exhibit that recently took up residence in Times Square. The piece uses capitalism’s own flashy conventions to question the system rather than outright condemn it.

“I wanted to get people thinking about something better than the system we have,” said the artist Steve Lambert. “But if you bring it up in a one-on-one conversation, people usually just run.” The piece invites passersby to cast a vote of true or false to the title’s claim and keeps score so others can gauge how well capitalism is working for their neighbors.


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Erik Roth
Ernest R4 years ago

rita b "The problem with regular corporations is that by their very charters they are often forced to only consider profit regardless of consequences to people or the planet" In my business class the instructor stated; "The object of business is to MAXIMIZE profit." No qualifying about environmental destruction or about destroying peoples lives. Just like the drug cartels. Also in scripture Jesus' quoted parable about the rich man going out of town who split his wealth between two sons for safe keeping, On his return he praised the son who had invested and increased his portion but was contemptuous of the son who had buried his to be sure not to lose any through theft. Again, no hint what the investment was. Slavery? Money changing ? Extortion?.

Erik Roth
Ernest R4 years ago

@ Robert H. "WE aren't [sic.] a 3rd world country are we???" A third world country by definition is one without a middle class in which the elite enrich themselves at the expense of the unwashed masses. You do the math.

Frank Hanline
Frank Hanline5 years ago

OBTW, for those who are interested:


Seems like the Koch funded faux "grassroots" orgs have been planning this for a long time

In the article, check out the "Te Party" ACA defunding kit:


Let's not forget the GOP TP have been planning this for sometime now:


Frank Hanline
Frank Hanline5 years ago

@ David F:

Well Dave, it was the 50s and 60s when we were paying off our WW2 Debt, had 40% Unionized Workforce, top tax rates were 70% for Capital Gains and 80% top tax rate

We stared down the Soviet Union, won the Space Race, Put a Man on the moon and more

John S.
Past Member 5 years ago

I'm not certain these are great, but perhaps you meant it's the best you can do. Not really in the same league as the soviet era writers or other artistic dissidents. And by the way, the term military industrial complex was originally the congressional military industrial complex and is so much more accurate.

Robert Hardy
Robert Hardy5 years ago

Our society will destroy itself under the weight of the greed that drives it. This end will come and current efforts by the rich to exert their control just may cause it to come sooner than later.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson5 years ago


Robert H.
Robert Hamm5 years ago

YAWNS same old tired screed over and over and over from David. Taxes are alreay low in this country. Sure they are higher than many countries. But then WE arent a 3rd world country are we??? Globalization is why this country is hurting. NOT Taxes. Instability is why this country is hurting. Every 3 months there is another shakedown by the right. Of course there is instability. Our taxes are plenty high and profits are WAY high. Whats NOT high is private sector spending.

Frank Hanline
Frank Hanline5 years ago

Let's look at the source of the deficits which added debt:

1: Tax cuts. Yes David F, you start taking in less money you're going to get deficit spending

2: Increase of 40% in Military Spending. Star Wars, 600 ship Navy (like reactivation of the Battleships - something I'd vote for now)

3: Unemployment: Double Whammy - Lowers tax collection (unemployed don't pay taxes) and increases expenditures (unemployment checks)

4: Keynesian Economics: When you have unemployment, you stoke the presses and create more demand

Yes David F, the real reason for the "Reagan Recovery" was deficit spending to get people back to work

The Tax Cuts however have hurt the US. Remember the US was doing great with far higher tax rates in the 50s and 60s, unions were strong and just one person in the family working could support a whole family, take vacations, not worry about getting sick/hurt, had a great pension waiting for them, etc

That was the real 50s, high taxes, strong unions