“Art is dead Dude”, Jason M Allen told the New York Times.

Mr Allen is the winner of the Colorado State Art Fair’s competition in the category of “emerging digital artists”.

His winning entry “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” was made using Midjourney, an artificial intelligence system that enables images to be created simply by inputting a few text prompts – for example “an astronaut riding a horse”.

Many artists were furious, but Mr Allen was unmoved: “It’s over. A.I. won. Humans lost”, he told the paper.

Mr Allen earned just $300 (£262) from the contest, but the news struck a tender nerve.

Some artists were already fearful that a new breed of AI image generator could take their jobs, and take a free ride on the years spent learning their craft.