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The Last Stroke of the Brush by Nigel Roth

Dernière mise à jour : 3 mars 2021

Ahh, the stamping of well-used passports, the faint smell of airplane fuel wafting through the gates and down the endless corridors, the exciting rush of international travel to destinations far and wide, the airport lounge with those hardened travelers drinking bloody marys at eight in the morning, and the quarter-of-a-million-euro surrealist paintings stuffed in the bottom of mucky trash cans.

Just an ordinary day at Düsseldorf Airport in 2020, as much as any day in 2020 at an airport could be.

And it was just an ordinary day at Christie’s auction house two years earlier, when another work of art, blurry at the edges, out of proportion in several places, and just plain odd all-over, sold for more than three-hundred thousand euros. Of course, that’s still almost thirteen-hundred times less than their best painting sale, the disputed Salvator Mundi, allegedly the work of the Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci.

The story of these two works of art, the untitled trash-can piece and the blurry-faced oddity are both surreal, in more ways than one would have ever guessed.

The first was traveling from Germany to Israel a few weeks ago, in the less-than-capable hands of a man whose venti-half whole milk-half non-fat-extra-hot-split quad shots-no-foam latte, with three short sprinkles of cinnamon, took precedence over the Yves Tanguy landscape he was in charge of.

The second was titled Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, and was created in 2018 by a machine. It is, in fact, a generative adversarial network portrait, though don't tell the artificial intelligence that in case they throw a fit and cut their ear off.