The Art of the Filthy Rich

The fat cat is greed personified, but only thanks to the work of top-notch artists like these.

What good can come of avarice and vice? Great art, of course! From the iconic Depression-era images of Dorothea Lange to the films of Charlie Chaplin, artists find a way to capture our populist desperation in ways that give the 99 percent a creative break from their anger. When it comes to images of the greedy perhaps the most notable image is the "fat cat," dressed in banker’s pinstripes or evening clothes, perhaps top-hatted or vested, usually corpulent, and sometimes accompanied by a cigar or a sack of money. This guy (although there have sometimes been female plutocrats) has been most famously depicted in Thomas Nast's anti-Tammany Hall cartoons, published in Harper's Weekly in the 1860s and '70s to protest political corruption. The fat cat's current appearances are legion, ranging from to the January 8, 2012 New York Times Magazine cover featuring Stephen Colbert literally rolling in dough; and of course, the January/February 2012 cover of Mother Jones. (Which, ahem, was delivered to subscribers more than three weeks before that issue of the NY Times Magazine.)

Herewith, the art of the fat cat, as it appeared in the last several years of Mother Jones.