The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

PHOTO: Living replica of Van Gogh’s ear

In 1888, Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear during a psychotic episode. Using living cells supplied by the great-great-grandson of Van Gogh ‘s brother Theo, U.S.-based artist Diemut Strebe created a replica of the missing ear — a “living art-piece,” according to the museum where it is displayed in Germany.

The exhibition also allows visitors to speak into the ear through a microphone. A computer converts the sound to simulate the ear’s nerve impulses in real time. The ear doesn’t talk back — or even wiggle, unfortunately.

The ear was grown from cartilage at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Strebe used a 3-D printer to shape the cells and create a replica “identical” to the organ once mutilated by the painter of “Sunflowers.”

And this ear needs fuel. It’s stored in a box which contains nourishing liquids that could hypothetically keep it alive for years.