This Art Stinks! German Artist Paints with Cow Manure

German artist Werner Härtl has carved out a truly unique niche for himself – he is currently the only known artist who uses diluted cow dung to create sepia-style paintings.

Here at Oddity Central, we’ve featured some funky art mediums in the past, from the artist’s own blood as paint, to dead cockroaches as canvases for tiny paintings, but in terms of weirdness, few things come close to Werner Härtl’s chosen medium. The German artist started experimenting with cow dung in 2012, during a stint as an agricultural worker. He packed some manure into a canister and used water to dilute it in order to obtain different sepia tones. These days, he prefers to get the ‘paint’ directly from the source, placing the canister just under the cow’s rectum as it poops. He claims that harvesting just two bovine bowel movements provides him with enough material for at least half a year.

Photo: Werner Härtl

A resident of Reichersbeuern, a village in Germany’s Bavaria region, Werner Härtl uses the state’s rural and agricultural background as the main source of inspiration for his paintings. Cows are his favorite subjects, but his paintings also depict tractors and other agricultural machinery, fertile fields, village houses, and even self-portraits.


“While painting, I use water to dilute the dung and achieve different shades,” told Ripley’s. “I start scribbling using very dry, gentle brushstrokes. Then, I use watered-down dung for light shades. Finally, I use dung with no water mixed in for the dark shades.”


Interestingly, Werner Härtl claims that his monochromatic paintings don’t stink at all. Well, at least after a while, because when the paint is fresh, it’s another story…


“When it is wet, the ‘paint’ is a bit funky, but when it’s completely dry, it doesn’t smell anymore,” the artist said, adding that it usually takes a few days for the cow dung smell to disappear from the canvas, and up to two weeks from a sheet of paper.

Posted in Art        Tags: , , , , ,