Google Uses AI to Recreate Lost Klimt Painting. But Should They?

The latest painting to receive the reconstructed-by-AI treatment is Gustav Klimt's 1900 painting "Philosophy". The Washington Post reports: For decades, only black-and-white photographs of "Philosophy" existed. Now, thanks to artificial intelligence, we can see the work in full color. But does the re-creation really look like the original? Does it even look like a Klimt? The new version, created by Google Arts and Culture using machine learning, shows a very different Klimt than you'd expect if you're familiar with "The Kiss" or "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I...." "I don't know any better than Google what those paintings really look like, but I don't think that they looked like that," says Jane Kallir, longtime director of the Galerie St. Etienne in New York, which gave Klimt his first shows in the United States. "These things look like cartoons. They don't look like Klimt paintings. "It's like people who try to clone their dogs. You can do it, but it's not the same dog." The paintings are one of several recent attempts to use artificial intelligence to re-create lost art. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam used AI to reconstruct missing panels from the edges of Rembrandt's famous "Night Watch" and, over the summer, temporarily installed them alongside the real thing. A pair of researchers in the United Kingdom, who call themselves Oxia Palus, say they've rebuilt a Picasso nude that was hidden beneath "The Blind Man's Meal," using 3-D printing and AI. In October, an orchestra in Bonn, Germany, "played" Beethoven's 10th and unfinished symphony in full. The version was written by an algorithm. George Cann, co-founder of Oxia Palus, posits that artificial intelligence "could give us this parallel alternative universe of art that we never really quite had." It's an alluring idea. Peek beneath a Picasso at an earlier painting under the surface layer and it's like you're peering into the artist's mind, eavesdropping on thoughts from a century ago. See a painting that was lost to catastrophe come back to life and it's like you've traveled back in time, reversed fate. But if any of this re-created universe of lost art, like "Philosophy," is inaccurate, the AI creators might not be resurrecting history but inadvertently rewriting it.... [F]or Kallir, there is little of Klimt in what she calls the "gaudy" re-creations, adding that the paintings would have been more subdued, with smoother transitions from one color to the next. "If you've got a decent eye, and you look at the black-and-white reproductions and compare them to other paintings that were done around the same time, you can probably get a better idea of what they really look like," she says.

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