The Obvious work sold by Christie’s was promoted far and wide as the first artificial intelligence artwork ever to come to auction, resulting in ample media coverage—and an attribution controversy
over the code used to generate the work. By comparison, pre-sale anticipation for Klingemann’s piece at Sotheby’s was more subdued, despite the work’s far more complex technological makeup, perhaps explaining in part the more modest sale result.
Klingemann’s work, which is from an edition of three with two artist’s proofs, uses multiple Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) to generate portraits in real time on-screen, with the image shifting before the viewer. The GANs generate images based on photographs of portrait paintings spanning the 17th century to the 19th century.
Klingemann called the neural networks involved in the work “the brushes that I’ve learned to use,” in a press release announcing the consignment in February.