ART AND THE ARTIST. British auction house Christie’s has facilitated the purchase of works by some the world’s most famous artists, from Monet to Picasso to Da Vinci.
Now, a new artist is poised to join the list, only this one isn’t human.
A WORLD’S FIRST. Between October 23 and 25, Christie’s plans to hold a special sale for limited-edition original prints and series of identical three-dimensional artworks. And it plans to include art created by artificial intelligence (AI): Portrait of Edmond Belamy. This will mark the first time an first auction house sells art created by AI.
The 70-by-70 cm print on canvas is the work of an algorithm created by Obvious, a French collective “of friends, artists, and researchers,” according to the group’s web site. To produce the AI-generated portrait, the collective used an AI model known as a generative adversarial network (GAN). A GAN consists of two parts: one that creates (the “generator”) and one that critiques (the “discriminator”).
To start, the collective fed their GAN a training set containing 15,000 portraits, all created between the 14th and 20th centuries. The generator then attempted to mimic the characteristics of these portraits in a new work of art. It kept creating new pieces until it produced a portrait the discriminator couldn’t tell apart from a human-generated piece.
However, the auction of an AI-generated portrait at Christie’s could make AI-created art seem, you know, legit. After all, if people are willing to treat it the way they treat human-created art (and pay potentially large sums of money for it), it could change the future of art — how it’s made, and how it’s valued.
More on AI art: Artificial Intelligence Is Already a Better Artist Than You Are