French AI engineers and artists Obvious have made history with their artificial intelligence-generated painting, "Edmond de Belamy," which sold for a reported $432,500 at an auction as Tech Crunch notes. Obvious originally estimated that the painting would sell for around 10,000 euros, meaning they were likely very shocked when an anonymous buyer purchased the painting for almost half a million.
"Edmond de Belamy" is part of a fictitious family created by a "generative adversarial network," of which there's ten other paintings. "Edmond" is one of the most striking of the paintings, and will likely become an important part of art history going forward thanks to its huge selling price. The generator behind the painting created new portraits based on 15,000 from the last 600 years, taking existing art and crafting something wholly original and quite alien.
The final paintings are chosen by what Obvious is calling the "discriminator," which attempts to identify portraits as either authentic or artificial, picking those that it has the most trouble identifying as authentic. As a result, the paintings have a very surreal quality to them, with odd warping and other strange aspects.
“It is an attribute of the model that there is distortion,” Hugo Caselles-Dupré of Obvious explained to Christie’s. “The Discriminator is looking for the features of the image—a face, shoulders—and for now it is more easily fooled than a human eye.”
Check out the rest of Obvious' AI-generated paintings by heading here.