Snap a photo of that Andy Warhol print, and your phone tells you what similar artworks lie in your price range. Tech startup Art.sy is hoping their recommendation system will make the art market more accessible to normal mortals–or at least make them a bunch of money in commissioned sales.

It’s improbable that artworld insiders like Larry Gagosian are going to start relying on an aesthetic Match.com to discover the next Picasso. What more insidious about Art.sy’s system is that it could train lay people to think artistic appreciation can be reduced to a 500-line Excel sheet.

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Warhol printArt.sy’s spare web design belies the serious complexity of the project. The lone search bar at the top allows users to explore through any combination of terms: the name of an artist, an artwork, an art movement or genre—even a color. If you type in the word “Wednesday,” for example, the auto-complete function might suggest the work Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, a photograph by American photographer Alec Soth, who is known for his stark images of modern America, particularly portraiture. Ash Wednesday depicts a tattooed woman with bright red hair and an ash cross on her forehead, all framed by gray gloom and a metal fence. Below, Art.sy recommends other works by Soth: prints of a woman at a supermarket counter, of a trailer, of the facade of a red, white, and blue pawn shop.

Using Ash Wednesday as a starting point, the software then presents other, genetically similar works. Since Soth’s image carries a strong gene for “contemporary photographic portraiture,” Art.sy suggests pieces by Sally Mann and Bill Jacobson, two American photographers also known for their melancholic portraits. Art.sy also spots a strong “documentation of social life” gene for Ash Wednesday, and so it returns a few results for another American photographer, Brian Ulrich, known for his work on consumer culture, and for Jean Pigozzi, an Italian millionaire who has found great acclaim photographing his friends.

Adelyn, Ash Wednesday also carries the “contemporary” and “realism” genes, which help to suggest some more works. Finally, since all of the artworks have been analyzed by computer vision software as well as a team of human experts, Art.sy is able to recommend other art—not just photography but work in any medium—that employs a similar color palette. One of these turns out to be a painting of a Parisian scene done in 1900 by American artist Everett Shinn.

Shown above: Andy Warhol, Gun, 1981-1982

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