Reﬂections on art and aesthetics have been an important, if not central, aspect of Baudrillard’s work since the 1960s. Although his writings exhibit many twists, turns and surprising developments as he moved from synthesizing Marxism and semiotics to developing highly idiosyncratic forms of writing and theory, interest in art remains a constant of his theoretical investigations and cultural reﬂections, and generated artistic experiments in writing and photography of his own. I will engage Baudrillard’s recent work on the ‘conspiracy of art’, situating it within his earlier work on art and aesthetics, and will appraise the importance of art for Baudrillard’s work as a whole. I begin with some reﬂections on literature and literary analysis in
Baudrillard’s work and later focus on his analyses of visual art, which are at the centre of The Conspiracy of Art collection (2005b). However, it is important not to forget his literary beginnings and the literary dimensions of his work. While Baudrillard was trained as a Germanist and translated German literary works, including ones by Bertolt Brecht and Peter Weiss, he has not really engaged in literary criticism or theorized literature as a speciﬁc cultural form, although, in Seduction, he discusses writers like Kafka, Kierkegaard and Borges, and there are literary references and asides throughout his work. Moreover, much of Baudrillard’s own work is highly literary and espe-
cially since the 1980s he has produced an increasingly literary and philosophical mode of thought and writing. Throughout his work, Georges Bataille was a privileged source, although in his earlier stages Baudrillard appeared to be more inﬂuenced by Bataille’s theoretical writings than his literary ones. During the period of his intense focus on simulations, simulacra and hyperreality, which I take as his postmodern period (Kellner, 1989, 1994), there were frequent references to Jorge Luis Borges, J. G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick and science ﬁction (SF) as a genre. For Baudrillard, the world was becoming increasingly ﬁctionalized and the great SF writers anticipated the radical changes brought about by science, technology and capital. Borges, in particular, developed a genre of creating alternative literary worlds that Baudrillard adapted to present the alterity and novelty of the contemporary world.