According to the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe Museums website (ZKM), the cultural institution is hosting a very important work of “living art.” With the vision of artist Diemut Strebe, scientific engineering and computer imaging technology, the severed ear of Vincent van Gogh has been regrown.
The story began in 1887 when van Gogh and fellow artist Paul Gauguin moved to Paris on the request of van Gogh’s brother, Theo, who dealt in Gauguin’s art. Seeing they would be great companions, the two men agreed to live together in a small home and began exploring the ways in which two artists could paint the same scene and finish with two very contrasting images. According to the van Gogh Gallery, it was not long until Gauguin began to find it very difficult to live with van Gogh; ultimately deciding the best thing was for both men to go their separate ways. On the night of December 23rd in an act of rage, the tortured artist took a razor to his ear. The relationship between both artists was ruined and van Gogh would forever blame himself for the falling out.
Now, over a century and a quarter later, van Gogh’s “ear” is on view at the ZK Museum. Composed of living cells from his brother’s great-grandson, Lieuwe van Gogh, the replica ear is an “identical” copy of the infamous severed ear, sharing 1/16 of the genes.
The museum reports that you can even talk to the ear by way of a computer that’s software converts sound into simulate nerve impulses, in real time.
The “living art” display will be on view until next month at the ZK Museum. Then, the work will travel across the Atlantic to New York next spring, to Feldman Gallery, who represents Diemut Strebe’s works.