Christie’s sells for the first time the work of artificial intelligence

© Obvious Art

An auction house is making people talk about it. This time, it is not Banksy who signs the sensational work but “min max Ex + Ez”.

Doesn’t he look familiar? However, on 25 October 2018, his work was auctioned in New York for more than $432,500.

The artist is none other than an AI created by the French collective Obvious. Fed from a database of 15,000 portraits, the AI generated a series of eleven portraits representing the eleven fictional members of the – fictional – Belamy family. The painting sold is that of Edmond Belamy, a character with the appearance of a 19th century gentleman.

The selling price exceeded both Christies’ expectations, which had estimated the work at between $7,000 and $10,000, and those of the collective, which did not expect such success. The portrait was sold to an anonymous buyer for nearly forty-five times its original estimate.

The sale was commented on by artists familiar with the use of AI in art, some judging the work to be non-original. However, there is no doubt that since yesterday, the art market is now open to a whole new generation of artists, the “GANistes”.

“GAN”, which stands for Generative Adversial Networks, are learning algorithms created by Ian Goodfellow in 2014. Roughly speaking, these algorithms allow a machine to create content, in this case an image, from database. It’s this technology that allowed the Obvious collective and its artificial intelligence to generate the portraits of the Belamy family.

By bringing this painting into the traditional Christie’s auction house, alongside the works of Warhol and Lichtenstein, the Obvious collective is bringing to the forefront an artistic movement still little known to the public.

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