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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Dieter Roth, Swiss (Hanover, Germany 1930 - 1998 Basel, Switzerland)
Shit Hare
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Karnickelköttelkarnickel, Scheisshase, Rabbitdroppingrabbit
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Dirt, straw, hay, rabbit droppings, pressed into a mold
sight: 18 x 18 x 10 cm (7 1/16 x 7 1/16 x 3 15/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Private Collector, North Rhine Westphalia, Auction, Germany, 1990, 2001.
Galerie Marion u. Roswitha Fricke, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2001, 2001.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Purchase in memory of Eda K. Loeb
© Dieter Roth Estate / Hauser & Wirth
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

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The "Shit Hare", 1975 by Dieter Roth (1930-1998) is an artwork representing, indeed exhibiting, the organic process of decay and the biological end product of the body. Pressed in the shape of a traditional Easter chocolate bunny, the material of rabbit excrement belies and reverses its cute attractiveness to viewers.
Commissioned by Daniel Spoerri’s "Eat Art Gallery" in Düsseldorf, Roth’s "Shit Hare" can be seen in relation to the output of – and experimentation with – organic and edible works in the 1960s in and around this gallery’s influence. In addition, Roth taught at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, where the influential Joseph Beuys was his colleague. Beuys’ encouragement of expanding the ideas of sculpture and art was responsible for effecting a whole generation of artists coming out of the school. His mythological imbuing of animals, especially the hare (for both its religious connotations and its procreative powers), the most obvious of which is "How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare", 1965 is indeed an interesting consideration when thinking about Roth’s "Shit Hare". Provocation and commentary – favored tactics of Roth’s – enter the interpretation of the "Shit Hare", and provide a lighthearted countering to Beuys’ self-opposed spiritual and philosophical weight. As such, Roth emerges as a comic figure or jester, who provides his own insights by creating works of satire that contain earnest messages, for example, by asking how seriously we should take a self-appointed religious or artistic leader.

Publication History

  • Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 39

Exhibition History

  • Eat Art: Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth, Sonja Alhäuser, Harvard University Art Museums, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 10/04/2001 - 12/16/2001

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Verification Level

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