Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889, oil on canvas



Thanks To DNA, You Can Go See Van Gogh's Actual Ear

After spending some time at the Centre for Art and Media in Germany, Van Gogh’s severed ear is finally coming to New York. I’m sorry, wait—what?

The ear in question is not the actual ear Van Gogh removed from his own head—that still belongs to the “horrified prostitute” to whom he gave it, as legend has it. This one is a reproduction by Dutch artist Diemut Strebe. It’s called “Sugababe,” and it was created using DNA from Van Gogh’s great-great-grandnephew, Jurassic Park style.

Papa, can you hear me?

Strebe referenced Van Gogh’s self-portraits and used computer imaging technology to recreate the exact shape and size of the artist’s ear. Also included in the installation is a computer processor that simulates nerve impulses when spoken to, as if it could actually hear you. The final product, suspended and preserved in what’s described only as a “nutrient solution,” was a hit in Germany. Now, it’s on display at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York as part of the exhibit “Free Radicals: Sugababe and Other Works,” which runs until December 5th.

Art is supposed to push the boundaries of what we thought possible, but “Sugababe” is on the next level. For any art history fans, or any dead body fans, your dream has come true.

Photo courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

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