The Next Rembrandt
J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam (NL)
This project set out to create a painting that Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) might have made, had he lived longer. According to its creators, this image of a man was developed using artificial intelligence that learned from scans of works by the famous Dutch artist. Based on these data, it devised attributes for this painting like subject, composition, lighting, and even brush strokes. The stunning 3D printed painting looks quite convincing but it is unclear exactly how much of the work is due to autonomous computer generation and how much was done by human designers and artisans.
What is not in doubt is the project’s media value. It has generated more than 1.8 billion media impressions, according to J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam, the agency that masterminded the collaboration between ING Bank, Microsoft, TU Delft, and others. It also helps frame questions about creativity, machine learning, and the future of art. If algorithms can churn out endless, new Rembrandt-looking paintings, what does that mean for artists, and could it dilute the value or alter the meaning of the priceless originals?
For this exhibition, The Next Rembrandt painting was unavailable, so we commissioned a human to reproduce it, by hand, using oil paint. The artist Pan Fubin’s work, Portrait of a Man, is an experiment in presenting a skilled, human touch, blended with a supposed machine-made subject.
J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam is part of a global network of advertising agencies under the name J. Walter Thompson Worldwide. The creative executive director of the office who led The Next Rembrandt project is Bas Korsten. The office has won some of the most sought-after accolades for its work and serves a range of clients, including Royal Dutch Shell, BMW, and Ziggo.jwt.amsterdam nextrembrandt.com