Generated ‘Edmond de Belamy' Painting Sells for $432,500

Generated ‘Edmond de Belamy' Painting Sells for $432,500

The sale of the portrait signalled the arrival of AI art on the world auction stage, Christie's said.

On Thursday, Christie's tweeted about the accomplished painting, "Edmond de Belamy from La Famille de Belamy".

The Old Masters-like portrait, a blurry face of a European man of indistinct origin, is the brainchild of the Paris-based Obvious Collective - and an algorithm. After that, another tool, called a "Discriminator", attempted to find differences between the human-made image and one created by the Generator. In a statement after the auction yesterday, Obvious wrote: "We would like to thank the AI community, especially to those who have been pioneering the use of this new technology, including Ian Goodfellow, the creator of the GAN algorithm".

Richard Lloyd, global head of prints and multiples at Christie's, persuaded the collective to put the print up for sale in order to foster a debate about artificial intelligence in art. Fautrel insists that it is art since they decided to make it even if algorithm created it. According to a description of the work, the canvas print was created from a "generative adversarial network" and was one canvas of "a series of 11 unique images".

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"The aim is to fool the Discriminator into thinking that the new images are real-life portraits", explained Hugo Caselles- Dupré, one of the collective members. "But we found that portraits provided the best way to illustrate our point, which is that algorithms are able to emulate creativity", Caselles-Dupre said.

Christie's admits that artwork created by machine learning methods leaves open questions about who or what should get credit for creating the pieces.

"It gives you privilege that only very wealthy people in previous centuries had - to commission works of art painted just for you", Lloyd said.

The artwork was produced as an experiment "in the interface between art and artificial intelligence", Christie's said on its website. I think that's what's come downing the pike in the near future.

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