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Computer Painting Sold For More Than 400k At Christie’s

Visual art has existed far longer than any other form we have. For some people, it comes quite naturally. Others might have trouble finding the inspiration to begin creating a piece. One of the burning questions for humanity has been “Are machines able to create the way that we do?”

Selling one’s art is one of the toughest jobs in the world. So, for many, the idea that a painting created by an AI can be sold for more than $400,000 may sound absolutely outlandish.

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OBVIOUS, a Paris-based art collective, created an algorithm that could create its own art. Using data from 15,000 portraits painted from the 14th to the 20th centuries, the AI painted a piece dubbed Portrait of Edmond Bellamy. The collective is made up of artists Hugo Caselles-Dupre, Pierre Fautrel, and Gauthier Vernier.

Hugo Caselles-Dupre explained the details of what the algorithm was fed: “We did some work with nudes and landscapes, and we also tried feeding the algorithm sets of works by famous painters. But we found that portraits provided the best way to illustrate our point, which is that algorithms are able to emulate creativity.”

Portrait of Edmond Bellamy (Le portrait d’Edmond Bellamy) sold for a total of $432,500 at Christie’s Auctions, a tag far above what it was initially valued at. This was the first-ever AI-created piece that was sold at this or any auction house.

The equation used to create the algorithm lies in the place where there would be an artist’s signature.

There is concern on how this will impact the visual art world: “AI is just one of several technologies that will have an impact on the art market of the future – although it is far too early to predict what those changes might be,” said Christie’s specialist Richard Lloyd.

Do you think it’s possible for artificial intelligence to understand what it means to create art? Or does it require some sort of earthly connection? Does Portrait of Edmond Bellamy mean that the machines we create understand more than we give them credit for?

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