Christie's Will Hold the First Major Auction of an AI-Generated Artwork


An upcoming auction in New York City suggests that the art world might be ready to embrace robot artists. In October, Christie's will be the first major auction house to put artwork generated by artificial intelligence up for sale, according to Artnet.

The print, called Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, is one of several AI-generated works created by the French art collective Obvious. Obvious trained an algorithm using a dataset of 15,000 portraits from the 14th to 20th centuries to create a portrait series depicting the fictional Belamy family, all vaguely in the style of an 18th-century European painter.

To make the series, first the artificial intelligence program learned to create new art drawing on its knowledge of past portraiture. Then, it tested whether the portraits it generated could fool a test designed to distinguish human-made paintings from AI-generated ones. Obvious dubbed these two aspects of the algorithm the Generator and the Discriminator.

An AI-generated portrait of a man in black clothes with a white collar
Portrait of Edmond de Belamy

Eleven of the resulting portraits that passed the test make up a series called La Famille de Belamy. The Portrait of Edmond de Belamy is the most recent work in the series. (You can see the rest here.) Christie's estimates that the painting is worth $7000 to $10,000.

"We wish to emphasize the parallel between the input parameters used for training an algorithm, and the expertise and influences that craft the style of an artist," Obvious member Hugo Caselles-Dupré said in a press release. "Most of all, we want the viewer to focus on the creative process: an algorithm usually functions by replicating human behavior, but it learns by using a path of its own."

The piece will be sold during Christie's Prints and Multiples auction, which will run from October 23 to 25.

[h/t Artnet]

Show Off Your Love of Art With a Frida Kahlo Action Figure

Frida Kahlo Action Figure
Frida Kahlo Action Figure
Today is Art Day

If you're in the market for an action figure based on a real person, you've got plenty to choose from: Everyone from Snoop Dogg to the Pope is getting their own figurine these days. Now, Frida Kahlo has joined the ranks of icons who have become immortalized in plastic.

In 2017, Canadian art website Today Is Art Day (known for its Vincent van Gogh action figure) started a Kickstarter to give Kahlo the action figure treatment. The toy features the artist with a monkey pal on her shoulder, as well as a detachable heart and the faint smell of roses. The packaging has fun facts about the artist, along with some miniature artwork that can be cut out and affixed to a miniature easel.

“Not that I don’t like the great books and reproductions of artworks but, I think it’s more engaging to have a Frida Kahlo action figure on your desk rather than an art history book on your shelf," ‘Today Is Art Day’ founder David Beaulieu told Lost at E Minor during the Kickstarter campaign.

The Frida action figure is available on Amazon for $30.

Frida Kahlo Action Figure

Frida Kahlo Action Figure

[h/t Lost at E Minor]

A version of this article first ran in 2017. It has been updated to reflect current availability.

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Rare Audio Clip of Frida Kahlo Discovered in Mexican Sound Library

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Even if they're not experts in art, many people are familiar with Frida Kahlo's most famous paintings. The Mexican artist's style, quotes, and artwork are still iconic 65 years after her death, but few people know what she sounded like. As CNN reports, the National Sound Library of Mexico recently announced the discovery of what could be the only surviving recording of her voice.

The clip comes from the 1955 pilot of the radio show El Bachiller. The episode profiles Diego Rivera, a muralist and Kahlo's on-again-off-again husband. In one section, Kahlo can be heard reciting a text entitled "Portrait of Diego" that poetically describes the appearance and temperament of her spouse.

Kahlo had already died when the episode aired, and the radio show notes that the voice being broadcast belongs to a painter "who no longer exists." The original recording of her voice likely dates back to 1954 or 1953 (she died in July 1954).

In a press release, the director of the National Sound Library of Mexico Pável Granados said that audio of Frida Kahlo is one of the most common requests they receive. The authenticity of the tape has yet to be confirmed, and authorities are currently investigating to see if the voice in the recording really belonged to the artist.

Surviving audio of Kahlo may be rare, but the painter left behind many artworks and writings that paint a rich picture of her life. Here are some facts about the icon.

[h/t CNN]