Up for Bid, AI Art Signed ‘Algorithm’
With their eyes trained on a gilded frame containing a smeared, half-formed image of a distinguished gentleman, a small group of potential bidders gathered Friday night over cocktails at Christie’s New York and heard the pitch: here was the first portrait generated by an algorithm to come up for auction. The portrait, produced by artificial intelligence, hung on the wall opposite an Andy Warhol print and just to the right of a bronze work by Roy Lichtenstein.
There were some smiles and at least one frown. Two people snapped cellphone pictures of the work, which looked as though someone had taken a sponge to a 17th-century oil portrait. The arrival of what some call the infant stages of the next great art movement at one of the world’s leading auction houses was greeted nonchalantly, with a nod of understanding and a sip of mezcal margarita.
Christie’s is hoping for a more explosive reaction on Thursday, when the gavel comes down on “Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy,” formally testing the art market’s interest in AI art. The work — estimated at $7,000-$10,000 — was a collaboration by the members of Obvious, a French trio composed of a student of machine learning and two business school graduates, none of whom have a background in art. There was no paint or brushes involved, just an algorithm that learns to imitate sets of images fed by humans — in this case, thousands of portraits spanning the 14th century to the 20th.
Source: New York Times