An AI "Painting" Is About To Be Sold For The First Time

Edmond de Belamy. Obvious Art

Rosie McCall 24 Aug 2018, 16:14

Last year, a study overseen by management consultancy firm McKinsey revealed that as many as 800 million jobs could be taken by robots by 2030. Our mechanical peers are already outpacing us in certain areas, particularly anything that involves repetition and precision. But there must be some things we humans are better at – like art, for instance. Right?

This October, auctioneers at Christie's will be selling a portrait of Edmond De Belamy, a sturdy-looking man from the 18th century pictured from the waist up. He is dressed in a black coat with a white collar and wears a slightly gormless expression. 

To be honest with you, it is no Rembrandt. It doesn't even look complete. But there is something particularly special about this piece of art – it was painted by an artificially intelligent machine.

The tell-tale sign that hints the artist is not entirely human is the artist's signature in the bottom right-hand corner, which reads:

Obvious Art

The Portrait of Edmond Belamy is just one of eleven "paintings" that depict a totally fictional family called the Belamys. At the head of the family, there is Baron and Comtesse de Belamy, who appear in white powdered wigs and candyfloss pink garments, and right at the very bottom of the family tree, you have the more somberly dressed Edmond. These will be the first pieces created by AI to be sold at auction – and they’re expected to fetch up to €10,000, which is roughly equivalent to $11,600 or £9,000. 

How much would you pay for "Le Compte de Belamy"? Obvious Art
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