Van Gogh's ear appears in downtown New York

There are fewer stories in the world of fine art with more legend attached to them than the story of Van Gogh’s ear.
There are several prominent theories available that attempt to explain how the Dutch painter lost his earlobe in 1888.
Some historians claim it was done as a response to the engagement of his brother, while others have said it may have been carried out by Paul Gauguin during a fight.
There have even been suggestions that the whole story had simply been made up.
The truth of the story is not important to many, indeed it seems to have added an extra layer of mystique to the enigmatic painter, whose works have dazzled audiences for over a century.

A swimming pool tribute

Now, Scandinavian duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have offered their own take on the story, installing their own tribute to the world-renowned post-impressionist painter with an old domestic swimming pool, which is (unsurprisingly) shaped suspiciously like an ear.
The fascination attached to Van Gogh has not been lost on the two artists, who appear keen to encompass his legacy into their other influences.
Explaining the piece, which has been installed at the Rockefeller Center, close to the entrance of the Channel Gardens, Elmgreen told The Guardian: “It’s a piece about the memory of Van Gogh.
“It’s not an exact proportion to his ear, but it resembles an ear.”
“Nobody really knows how that story came about, if it’s true, if it’s proven,” added Dragset. “Maybe Gauguin and Van Gogh invented the story together? It’s a fascinating thing.”

‘Fetish’ for swimming pools

A swimming pool might not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of a way to honour one of the most famous painters of all time, but for this innovative duo it makes perfect sense.
“We have an ongoing fetish with swimming pools,” said Elmgreen.
Indeed the first sculpture to be produced by the duo was a diving board hanging outside a window, which is now on permanent display at Denmark’s Louisiana Museum.
And at the Venice Biennale in 2009, the pair had a wax figure floating in a pool as part of their piece Death of a Collector.
The latest piece was inspired by west coast roadside display pools. “The pool has the ambience of California, the plenty-of-space good life from the 1950s and 1960s,” said Elmgreen.
“And that is everything the Rockefeller is not, which is busy, east coast, dense and urban. We thought it would be interesting to put that symbol of the good, middle-class leisure life out in that environment.”
However, the artists have still managed to hark back to the European roots of both themselves and Van Gogh by using a pool from Poland rather than California.
It could well be the most interesting tribute to one of art’s most complex and fascinating figures.