First Piece of AI-generated Art Will Be Auctioned at Christie’s

There has always been a heated debate concerning how artificial intelligence (AI) is replacing humans. Some people believe that it would be difficult for AI to replace humans in fields that require creativity and imagination. However, it seems like artificial intelligence is now reaching its hand on art as well. The first piece of AI-generated portrait is going to be sold at Christie’s in New York, carrying an estimate of US$7,000 - 10,000.

The signature is an algebraic formula with its many parentheses

It is one of a group of portraits of the fictional Belamy family created by Obvious, a Paris-based collective engaged in exploring the interface between art and artificial intelligence. They fed the system with a data set of 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th centuries.

The algorithm is composed of two parts. On one side is the Generator, on the other the Discriminator. The Generator makes a new image based on the set, then the Discriminator tries to spot the difference between a human-made image and one created by the Generator. The aim is to fool the Discriminator into thinking that the new images are real-life portraits.

If you think this artwork just happened to be a portrait with a human-like figure, then you are wrong. In fact, this artificial intelligence technology has produced portraits of the whole fictitious Belamy family tree, including members like Le Comte, La Comtesse, Le Baron, La Baronne and Le Cardinal.

La famille de Belamy — all the portraits in GAN’s fictitious Belamy family tree

Le Comte

La Comtesse

The sale of this AI art marks the arrival of the AI era in the auction world. What does auction house think about using AI as a new medium for art? Christie’s specialist Richard Lloyd says, ‘It is a portrait, after all. It may not have been painted by a man in a powdered wig, but it is exactly the kind of artwork we have been selling for 250 years.’

The piece is going to make a debut at Christie’s Photographs & Prints sale in October. We will have to wait and see if the market is ready for this ground-breaking artwork.

First Piece of AI-generated art

Auction house: Christie’s New York
Sale: Photographs & Prints
Auction: 23 - 25 October 2018
Estimate: US$7,000 - 10,000