AI Art: A History That Never Was

This painting of Marie Antoinette styled women and excessively fluffy cats doesn’t reside in any museum or private collection. You see, it isn’t actually a painting at all and it wasn’t even created by an artist. The image is merely AI art, the result of computer AI (Artificial Intelligence) and a text prompt: Marie Antoinette Holding the Fluffiest Kitten.

AI Art Marie Antoinette Holding the Fluffiest Kitten 2022

In order to create this image I used StabilityAI’s DreamStudio, a powerful, near-instantaneous (and free-to-try) image creation AI technology, and one of a number of such software. The result is incredibly realistic, and the software seemed to intuitively capture the colors, style and compositions of the historical art it is replicating. Wigs, ruffles, glowy cheeks? Yes, it’s got it all!

Obviously it isn’t quite perfect. I’m not certain why, but current AI software tends to get a few things wrong. First, it has a tendency to poorly render hands and arms, and miscount fingers. Similarly, it seems to have no idea how many limbs a normal human or animal should have. The woman on the right in the above image has a deformed and rather blurry arm, and the cats are mostly a mass of limbs and fluff.

Overall though, and especially at first glance, the image is shockingly believable as a historic painting. It’s all a bit frightening. We are on the cusp of no longer being able to trust the authenticity of any image. Historical-looking images in the style of any artist or any time period can be created in seconds, by anyone, and without any technical skill or design knowledge. Without a doubt, there are some important questions to be asked. Has the “artist” become obsolete? Not only do AI image-generators challenge the historically recognized role of the artist, but perhaps also the value of art.

In my initial experiments with DreamStudio, I used a simple but specific text string: Marie Antoinette style women holding cats. Consequently, the software generated dozens of similar, yet endlessly varied and highly rendered images. A few of the images were completely bizarre, with floating cats or detached limbs.

AI Art Marie Antoinette Style Women Holding Cats 2022
AI Art Marie Antoinette Style Women Holding Cats Variation 2 2022
AI Art Marie Antoinette Style Women Holding Cats Variation 3 2022

It brought up some questions about truth and authenticity. Could “lost” artworks begin to emerge from long dead artists? Could we start seeing a Da Vinci Spaceship Drawing, or a Frida Painting Self Portrait As Morticia Addams? Yes. Absolutely. To be honest, I think I would actually buy the Frida one.

AI Art Da Vinci Spaceship Drawing 2022
AI Art Frida Painting Self Portrait As Morticia Addams 2022

I found that longer text inputs resulted in more accurately illustrated ideas. The short query Marie Antoinette and Cats created a few horrifying cat-human hybrids. Furthermore, certain words had more impact than others. Adding “low brow” to the text string to see if I could create Mark Ryden-like images worked magnificently. The resulting images below have a quirky Cheshire Cat outsider art feel.

AI Art Low Brow Style Portrait Of Marie Antoinette Holding A Cat 2022
AI Art Low Brow Style Portrait Of Marie Antoinette Holding A Cat Variation 2 2022

Occasionally the results didn’t seem to accurately match my prompts. Was the software shaping the image based upon all previous queries? Low-brow Vogue models in the style of Marie Antoinette in a pile of cats would be a far more accurate description of the below painting than my actual simple query: Cats in the style of Marie Antoinette.

AI Art Cats In The Style Of Marie Antoinette 2022

One interesting aspect of AI created work involves copyright. Generally speaking copyright relates to an artist’s death (for example, in the US works fall into the public domain 70 years after death or 95 years after publication). Additionally, at least in the United States copyright for artwork only exists if a human created the work. Thus, all AI created work falls into the Public Domain, and this means the public now has access to an INFINITE resource. Artists are already beginning to collaborate with AI, using image generators to create artworks and then tweaking the resulting images into their own creations.

Give it a try.

Oh, and for some real Marie Antoinette imagery check out our wild story about her neckline...

AI Art Marie Antoinette Style Women Holding Cats Variation 4 2022
AI Art Marie Antoinette Style Women With Cats 2022
AI Art Marie Antoinette Style Women With Fluffy Cats 2022

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