A large digital retrospective exhibition of works by Gustav Klimt, known for his painting “The Kiss”, one of the most recognizable works of art in the world, is now available to all art-lovers. The exhibition, entitled “Klimt vs. Klimt – The Man of Contradictions”, is a collaboration between the Belvedere Museum, Vienna and Google Arts & Culture, with the support of over 30 other Viennese and international museums. As part of the exhibition, Google digitally restored three of the Austrian painter’s lost works, using artificial intelligence to add colour to the black-and-white photographs of these works (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xYpIM_BVTI&t=1s) .

The three paintings – “Medicine”, “Philosophy” and “Law” – make up the “Faculty Paintings” and were commissioned by the University of Vienna. Upon their being delivered in 1899, university officials considered them “pornographic” and “perverse” and they were eventually sold to a private individual. In 1945, in the last days of World War II, all three paintings were lost in a fire and today survive only in black and white photographs. Dr. Franz Smola, curator at the Belvedere Museum, and Emil Wallner, a current employee of the Google Arts & Culture Lab, worked together to develop an algorithm that could accurately colour the Faculty Paintings. “The result was a surprise to me because we were able to give colour even in places we had no knowledge of, with machine learning we had good assumptions that Klimt was using certain colors,” Smola said in a statement (https://www.instagram.com/p/CUu0v2JlX4F/).

Curated by Franz Smola, the web site features 700 objects, including paintings, drawings, letters and illustrations, many of which were digitized for the first time . “Klimt vs Klimt – The Man of Contradictions” (https://artsandculture.google.com/project/klimt-vs-klimt) can be browsed as an “augmented reality pocket exhibition”, where 63 masterpieces by Gustav Klimt are digitally arranged in a single digital hall.