Artificial Intelligence Takes on the Art Industry

Artificial intelligence is making inroads into just about every industry. Finance, medicine, and marketing are all being changed by discoveries made with artificial intelligence. One world that most people didn’t expect to be overtaken by AI is the art industry. However, like any other, it is being heavily influenced by the automation and technological advances of AI. Pieces created with neural networks are taking the art world by storm.


Just over a year ago, the portrait “Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy” sold for over $400,000 at Christie’s in New York. It had been expected to sell for about $7,000 to $10,000. This painting, made with convolutional neural networks, is just one example of how the art world is reacting to artificial intelligence. This new technology is making a bigger splash than many people had expected.


Computers use convolutional neural networks to arrange and analyze images. This technology isn’t just used in the art world. It has applications in a number of industries. It’s the same type of artificial intelligence that is changing the way the medical profession interprets images from X-rays and MRI images. CNN uses style transfer. This process changes the tone of an image without changing the content. This is similar to the idea of a filter on an Instagram photo.


While some purists are alarmed that AI-created images are sharing space with the work of classical and popular artists, it is important to remember that computer-generated art dates to at least the 1950s. Some artists in the postwar period saw this art as an important antidote to emotional manipulations. For people who had lived through the rise of fascism and Hitler’s propaganda films, an art made without feeling seemed like a relief. It was hard to imagine how such works could be manipulated by politicians, and that seemed comforting.


Frieder Nake and Max Bense are some of the important names in that early period of computer-generated art. Although many people today feel that AI-generated art is just a grotesque display of technology, it’s important to remember that many respected art forms started off that way. Today, films are preserved by governments for posterity due to their cultural value. When that industry emerged, it was made up entirely of outsiders. It was considered vulgar. It will be interesting to see how history views AI-generated art.

Inside the AI-Created Piece of Art

The day has come where Artificial Intelligence is now creating works of art. Many of us never thought we would see the day, and for many more of us, the thought that this day might come never even occurred to us. But, “robots” are creating art – and the first piece has sold for $432,500.

The high price tag was unexpected, as officials predicted it to go for anywhere between $7,000 and $10,000. That is the beauty of auctions such as Christie’s, the art house in NYC where this was sold. Christie’s wonders if AI art creation is the next big medium for the world stage.

The AI system that created this artwork, which is titled “Portrait of Edmond Belamy,” was constructed with a learning algorithm; both the AI system and the algorithm were designed by an art collective in Paris called Obvious.

There are similarities to this painting that compare to those famous ones through history. Many believe the subject matter, Edmond Belamy, is a man of the church due to his white collar and dark clothes. The man looks toward the painter in an austere manner with a fixed but abstract background. Conversely, the face is less defined than those in many paintings which it would be compared to. Christie’s offers this difference, along with the empty areas of the background.

The painting was described by Richard Lloyd, sale organizer at Christie’s, as not being much different from those that they have been selling for hundreds of years.
The process, on the other hand, was vastly different than any other painting that has been through Christie’s. Obvious, the art collective, put a total of 15,000 portraits from between the 14th and 20th centuries into the Artificial Intelligence learning system, then activated the “Generator” to create a new image. After the “Generator,” the next step is the “Discriminator,” which works to find the differences between the original portraits and those generated. The goal is, essentially, to fool the discriminator.

Obvious has experienced with AI-created art in many subjects, from portraits and life scenes to nature, but have found their best results with traditional style portraits.

While this may open up questions about who the official artist is to receive credit, Obvious chose to “sign” the painting at the bottom, not with a name, but with a part of the algorithm they created.

Artificial Intelligence and Art

Etienne Kiss-Borlase AI and Art

The world of technology is advancing each day. As artificial intelligence becomes more of a reality, there are many industries that are likely to be affected by the machine. While the finance and healthcare fields begin to prepare, there is one industry that many never considered to be impacted by AI. Art is something that lingered on the human brain and comes from the most creative minds of our times.

Many experts in AI feel as though the connection between art and machine will be a true testament to a collaborative environment. Although creativity is something that many people feel as though they don’t have, AI could help spark a fire within. Often, people don’t have the ability to express their thoughts on a piece of paper. The hope is that artificial intelligence will have the algorithm that works best for the artist and help them to discover new ideas.

Artificial intelligence is already becoming a part of the art world. Through the use of romance novels, algorithms have trained the AI in the art of poetry. Certain robots have also shown their artistic abilities in the Robot Art Competition. Some of the pieces were so intricate, they look as though completed by a human. Many artists and AI experts have mixed emotions about the emergence of the machine in the art industry. Of course, the fear comes from the idea of technology replacing people. On the contrary, human-made items will end up becoming an item of the utmost value. Hand crafted items will become a luxury compared to the ones that a machine is pumping out.

Along with the concerns of authenticity comes the question regarding authorship. Jon McCormack used AI in creating one of his art series of digital plants. McCormack considers himself the artist although the machine is who created the pieces of work. As AI continues to develop, the artist will be able to truly test their capacity. Right now the machines can only complete what they have been trained to do. The non-human aspect of art created by AI is something many believe will hinder the collaboration.

One day, AI could in a way, bring art and artists back to life. New Beatles songs could come about by using samples of the members who have passed. Van Gogh’s style could be memorized by the machine and his creativity then live on. It comes down to the authenticity and emotion we feel from the art that currently exists. Unless the art that AI produces can trigger raw emotion, humans will continue to be the inferior artists.