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There's a big Van Gogh exhibit in D.C. at the National Gallery of Art. A
morning news show did an interview with the curator (I only caught a bit of
it as I was rushing off to work). But the ear question came up and
according to this curator it was because the relationship between Gauguin
and Van Gogh had deteriorated and Gauguin had moved away.
I'm not sure either. But I did visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and
if you get a chance to see it here in the States, lucky you!