This paper considers Andy Warhol's paintings of Campbell Soup cans in the light of French intellectual Jean Baudrillard's concept of hyperreality. Baudrillard, who does not consider himself an expert in art criticism, nevertheless argues for Warhol as one of the most important postmodern figures - an artist whose work captured an essential essence of contemporary cultural reality by using a copy of one of the most banal and ordinary products manufactured by that culture and holding it up for consideration as a work of art.
Mike Gane writes,"Jean Baudrillard is one of France's leading intellectuals, with a growing world reputation" (1). One of his most striking concepts is hyperreality, a phrase used by others (including Umberto Eco) but given special meaning by Baudrillard. As Nick Perry explains the concept, "It corresponds to that . . . general contemporary condition in which both representation and reality have been displaced by simulacra (defined as copies without originals)" (1).
While Baudrillard is most concerned with social criticism and cultural theory, especially as it applies to American culture, his approach has been applied as well to art and art criticism, an application he professes to find surprising:
My interest in the object has always been for the non-aesthetic object, the banal object, or the metaphysical object. I've never really been concerned with the aesthetic object . . . . But on second thoughts, one might think of art criticism as something which tries to give a sense to works, while at the same time showing that they are beyond all interpretation. And in that respect I'm a kind of art critic who is not sn much concerned with art, but who - in a certain way - transforms the real, or the hyper-real, into a sort of artwork. My relationship with the banal or the hyper-real is the same relationship that one might have with a work of art. I offer it the kind of visual, sensual, analytical attent...