Christie’s New York will make history this fall when it becomes the first auction house to sell a work of art made by artificial intelligence. The print on canvas, a product of an algorithm developed by the French art collective Obvious, will be included in the auction house’s prints and multiples sale October 23-25.
Hugo Caselles-Dupré, a member of the Paris-based collective, told artnet News that they were “interested in the philosophical approach behind this,” he said. “Can an algorithm be creative? If so, this algorithm is the closest to the human mind’s creativity.”
The work was created using a model called a Generative Adversarial Network. The artists first fed a generator a dataset of 15,000 portraits done between the 14th and 20th centuries. It then created new works based on the training set until it was able to fool a test designed to distinguish whether an image was made by human or machine.
The resulting work, titled Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, depicts a man in a dark coat and white collar. There is no Edmund de Belamy, which is billiant because that is so totally the subjects name. The unique piece, a gold-framed canvas print that is currently on view in Christie’s London showroom, is estimated at $7,000-10,000. The collective says it will use the proceeds from the sale to further train its algorithm, finance the computational power needed to make such works, and experiment with 3D modeling.