Auction houses are venturing into the market of AI-generated art


The AI-generated sculpture Dio by Ben Snell. — AFP Relaxnews

The AI-generated sculpture Dio by Ben Snell. — AFP Relaxnews

Phillips is the latest auction house to feature an artwork generated by artificial intelligence, as part of its online-only "Unbound" sale.

The sculpture Dio was created by New York artist Ben Snell, whose work investigates materialities and ecologies of computation.

He trained his computer – named Dio after the Greek god Dionysos – to become a sculptor, using an algorithm to scan and process more than a thousand sculpture references. The resulting form – which resembles a humanoid figure – became the basis for the final sculpture, which was then created by grounding the computer Dio to dust and utilising it as physical medium.

Dio was the first sculpture developed by a computer to ever go under the hammer. Estimated between US$3,000 (RM12,402) and US$5,000 (RM20,667), the artwork reached US$6,875 (RM28,424) at the end of the auction on April 18.

The Phillips sale is far from being an isolated event. Over the past few months, prominent auction houses have shown a growing interest in AI-generated art. In October, Christie's caused a stir when the algorithm-created painting Portrait Of Edmond De Belamy fetched US$432,500 (RM1.79mil) – more than 40 times its high estimate.

Sotheby's also ventured into this new market in March, when it sold Mario Klingemann's AI-generated Memories Of Passersby I for £40,000 (RM214,972).

Although the AI art market still seems volatile, international art galleries and museums are following suit. Last February, New York's HG Contemporary held Faceless Portraits Transcending Time, an exhibition of AI-created prints developed by AICAN + Ahmed Elgammal. – AFP Relaxnews