Austrian painter Gustav Klimt ranks among the best painters, particularly pre-World War II. Yet, as TNW reports, around 20% of his paintings are considered lost.
One of the painting series he created, the so-called Faculty Paintings: Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence, are among those. The three pieces are believed to have been destroyed in a fire during World War II. So far, only black and white photos of the artworks remain.
Trying to bring these paintings back to life, the Google Arts & Culture Lab developed an algorithm that applied Klimt’s colorization style to the photos, with the help of A.I. and the artistic expertise of Vienna’s Belvedere Museum.
So far, A.I. colorization of black and white photos has been a contested process, with the main complaint being that it inaccurately depicts the past.
To avoid this hurdle, Dr. Franz Smola, a curator at Belvedere, collected comments about the Faculty Paintings artworks from news articles, exhibition catalogs, and letters. This information was then compared to Klimt’s surviving artworks.
As TNW notes, Smola discovered, for example, a description of “golden snakes” in the hair of three women in Jurisprudence. Golden snakes also appear in Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze.
As the two artworks were made during the same time, the team assumed Klimt used a similar tone of gold. This research was used to develop an algorithm that replicated Klimt’s style.