Artificial Intelligence – Sotheby’s Auctions More Paintings in New York14. November 2019
Artificial Intelligence – Sotheby’s Auctions More Paintings in New York
New York, November 14, 2019.
Two paintings auctioned in New York show a growing interest in works created with artificial intelligence – a technique that could change the way art is made and viewed, but also inspires a passionate debate.
The art world was stunned last year when an AI painting was sold for $432,500, and auction houses are eager to further test the demand for computer-generated works. “Art is a true reflection of what speaks to our society, what speaks to our environment,” Max Moore of Sotheby’s is quoted as saying. “And so it is only a natural continuation of the progress of art,” he added.
Sotheby’s will today offer for sale two paintings by the French art collective Obvious, including “Le Baron De Belamy”. The European portrait in classical style is part of the same series as “Portrait of Edmond Belamy”.
The paintings were produced using a technique known as “generative enemy network” or GAN. At GAN, thousands of images of the same style are fed into a computer until the machine concludes that it has created a new portrait that it thinks accurately reproduces.
“Katsuwaka of the Dawn Lagoon” was created in Japanese style using the same GAN algorithm.
Auctioneers have set modest prices for the two paintings. “Katsuwaka” has an advance sale estimate between 8,000 and 12,000 dollars, while “Le Baron” costs between 20,000 and 30,000 dollars.
“We don’t expect such a big result as last year,” said Pierre Fautrel, one of Obvious’s three members. “We just want to see if there are people willing to buy for these prices and if the market will continue to grow,” he added.
Moore said the sale of “Portrait of Edmond Belamy” had shown that there was “a marketplace for this new work”, but that it was still “in its infancy”. “This will be a good indicator of where the market is,” he said.
Steven Sacks, owner of the bitforms gallery in New York, says that his customer, the Canadian-Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, has already earned around $600,000 for an AI artwork.
While Obvious’s paintings are fixed, most of Lozano-Hemmer’s works use software to change in real time according to the data on each viewer’s perspective.
Other prominent AI artists exhibiting their work worldwide include German Mario Klingemann and Turkish-born Refik Anadol.
Klingemann also portrays by sometimes optimizing the input data with voluntary disturbances in order to avoid replication. Anadol mainly uses video to create abstract data-based animations.
Klingemann’s “Memories of Passersby I,” a machine-made stream of portraits, was sold at Sotheby’s in London in March for $40,000.
Sacks and several other artists AFP spoke to criticized the sale of “Bellamy” last year. They believe that this painting is not representative of the potential of AI and argue that Obvious imitates other works while creating something new.
“For me it was a problem because it wasn’t authentic,” said Sacks, who joins a school of thought that should change constantly, mostly on screens. Some also criticize Obvious for giving the impression that Obvious can create AI artworks without human intervention.
“An artist chooses. He becomes lighter, he amplifies. Can a computer do that,” asks the French painter Ronan Barrot, who collaborated with the British AI artist Robbie Barrat?
The debate is still fierce. Fautrel of Obvious denies that his collective merely imitates other works of art and sees AI as a “tool” and not as an end in itself. Despite their differences, they all agree that the market for AI paintings is growing and that the sale of “Bellamy” has drawn attention to the emerging technique.
“I don’t think this new style is for everyone, but I think you’ll start to attract the attention of many people who aren’t necessarily art collectors, but are very interested in the technology behind AI,” said Sotheby’s Moore.