A replica of Vincent Van Gogh’s ear has been grown using genetic material from one of his surviving relatives.
Artist Diemut Strebe created the copy using living cells from Lieuwe Van Gogh, the great-great-grandson of Van Gogh’s brother Theo.
The cells were then shaped using a 3D printer to resemble the ear the Dutch master is to said to have cut off in 1888 following an argument with his artist friend Paul Gaugin.
The ear is currently on display at the Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Visitors can speak to it via a microphone, whereupon a computer will process the sound and convert it to simulate nerve impulses and produce a crackling sound.
The museum says Lieuwe and Vincent Van Gogh share about 1/16th of the same genes, including the Y-chromosome that is passed down the male lineage.
‘Bio-artist’ Strebe told the Associated Press: “I use science basically like a type of brush, like Vincent used paint.”
The ear was grown at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is being kept alive in a case using a nutrient solution, which will in theory preserve it for years.
It is set to go on display in New York next year.
Van Gogh is believed to have shot himself in a wheat field at Auvers-sur-Oise, France in July 1890.
Van Gogh self portraits: