Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

#mygirlwithapearl @ Mauritshuis incl AI as

Digital creator Julian van Dieken’s AI submission to the Mauritshuis museum’s display. Courtesy Julian van Dieken via Instagram.

Gareth Harris, Online storm erupts over AI work in Dutch museum’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ display, 15 March 2023

Mauritshuis currently has 170 works on display as part of its “My Girl with a Pearl” initiative while Vermeer’s masterpiece is on loan.

The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, Netherlands, is facing criticism for showing an image made using artificial intelligence (AI) which is inspired by Vermeer’s famous Girl with a Pearl Earring.

The work by Berlin-based Julian van Dieken, who describes himself as a “digital creator”, is one of five images out of around 3,480 submitted for the My Girl with a Pearl initiative whereby devotees of the famous painting were invited to send their own versions of the famous girl image.

The winning entries are on show at the Mauritshuis while Vermeer’s 1665 original masterpiece is on loan to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (until 4 June); 170 entries are shown on a loop in a digital frame.

Tweet from artist Julian van Dieken.

Van Dieken says on his Instagram feed: “Everyone could enter their own version of the famous painting be it a photo, a drawing, an AI image, a knitted homage, you name it. I also entered my version which I created with [the AI programme] MidJourney and Photoshop.” He adds that the method for entry and selection was “transparent because in my submission… I reflect on how these new AI tools might change creative processes”.

The controversy fuels the debate around the validity of images created using AI tools. Artists in the field stress that AI is prompting a paradigm shift, prompting difficult questions around artist agency, copyright and market value. Van Dieken adds on his LinkedIn page: “It is of course quite progressive and special that the museum chose this picture, among others. The first AI picture in this museum? That’s an art historical action.”

Van Dieken’s image has sparked a flood of comments on the Mauritshuis Instagram account however. The Colorado-based artist Julia Rose Waters says, for instance, that she is “super disappointed [the Mauritshuis] chose an AI piece. That choice pushed out another artist who devoted real time to building their creative skills in favour of machine-created art.” Another US artist, Graham McCarthy, says that “displaying AI work here is ridiculous”. A contributor on LinkedIn says meanwhile that this is a “great picture that, just like the original, masterfully plays with light and shadow. So it is deserved that it takes the place of the original in the Mauritshuis.”

The Mauritshuis says in a statement meanwhile that the My Girl with a Pearl initiative is not a competition. “It was not and is not about [the] ‘most beautiful’ or ‘best’. For us, the starting point has always been that the maker has been inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s world-famous painting. And that can be in the most diverse ways in image or technique.”

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. No claim is made as to the accuracy or authenticity of the content of the website. The Council of Australasian Museum Directors does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) which is provided on this website. The information on our website is provided on the basis that all persons accessing the site undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content. No responsibility is taken for any information or services which may appear on any linked web sites. Hostgator.