The Shapes of Art History in the Eyes of the Machine

By Ahmed Elgammal and Professor Marian Mazzone, Art History, College of Charleston

Several studies have shown the ability of the machine to learn and predict style categories, such as Renaissance, Baroque, Impressionism, etc., from images of paintings. This implies that the machine can learn an internal representation encoding discriminative features through its visual analysis. However, such a representation is not necessarily interpretable by humans. How does the machine classify styles in art? And how does it relate to art historian’s methods for analyzing style?