You probably don’t know Edmond de Belamy, the subject of this portrait. I certainly never heard of him. But he’s in the news because of this very portrait, and Christie’s, which sold the portrait at auction, listed it as follows:
Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy
generative Adversarial Network print, on canvas, 2018, signed with GAN model loss function in ink by the publisher, from a series of eleven unique images, published by Obvious Art, Paris, with original gilded wood frame S. 27½ x 27½ in (700 x 700 mm.)
In other words, this portrait of Belamy was created by an artificial intelligence:
The artwork was produced using an algorithm and a data set of 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th Centuries.
To generate the image, the algorithm compared its own work to those in the data set until it could not tell them apart.
The portrait is the first piece of AI art to go under the hammer at a major auction house. The sale attracted a significant amount of media attention.
And a fair chunk of change: Christie’s anticipated $7,000-$10,000; but the hammer came down at $432,500.