Friday, March 1, 2024

Lazy Artists Use AI to Rip Off Famous Dutch Painting for Museum Exhibition

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“It’s an insult to the legacy of Vermeer and also to any working artist.”

Girl With An AI Earring

Art lovers are peeved at an art exhibit in The Hague in The Netherlands after one artist used artificial intelligence to recreate Dutch painter Johannes Veermeer’s masterpiece “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”

As Agence France-Presse reports, the AI-created image is one of several interpretations of the famous painting that hangs in the Mauritshuis museum —which normally houses the original Vermeer that’s currently on loan in Amsterdam.

The exhibition has reignited a fierce debate surrounding the use of AI image generators in the art world.

“It’s controversial, so people are for it or against it,” Mauritshuis press officer Boris de Munnick told AFP.

Rembrandt Rebrand

Made by Berlin-based digital artist Julian van Dieken, one of the AI reproductions was crafted using both Photoshop and Midjourney, a powerful AI image generator, for a competition in which people submitted their own versions of Vermeer’s most famous work.

The museum chose van Dieken’s reproduction along with four others from nearly 3,500 submissions — and in an Instagram post about the honor, the AI artist said it felt “surreal” to see it hanging up in the same room where the “Girl” normally resides.

Slap in the Face

As suspected, the series of AI-generated images sparked outrage online. A heated debate broke out on the museum’s Instagram page — including backlash from fellow artists.

“Such a shameful decision for a museum of all things to feature AI-generated images,” illustrator Katria Raden said in one of the top comments on the post. “Are you unfamiliar with the legal and ethical issues with the technology as well, or is it a case of pure disregard for actual artists all around?”

The illustrator was joined by Dutch artist and art critic Iris Compiet, who gave her two cents to AFP.

“It’s an insult to the legacy of Vermeer and also to any working artist,” Compiet said. “Coming from a museum, it’s a real slap in the face.”

In his statement to the AFP, de Munnick matter-of-factly defended van Dieken’s work and its selection for the series.

“The people who selected this, they liked it, they knew that it was AI, but we liked the creation,” he said. “So we chose it, and we hung it.”

Given how popular AI art has become just in the last year alone, it’s mighty likely that we’ll start seeing more debates like this — and, perhaps, greater criticism from artists, too.

More on AI art: Popular Instagram “Photographer” Admits His “Portraits” Are Generated by AI

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