He probably never thought that his pissoir, entered in an exhibit as a Dadaist prank, would inspire later artists to create works using bodily fluids and excretions the average viewer would be more accustomed to see flushed down a toilet.
But there in lies the Frenchman's enduring genius. He opened a space for creative sorts to follow proving that art can be made from anything or take any form.
Here are some of our favorite artists who dabble in urine, crap, semen and menstrual blood to leave their mark on the art world.1. Piero Manzoni's Artist's Shit (Merda d'Artista)
During the early Sixties, Italian conceptualist Piero Manzoni canned 90 tins of his own shit, which were then sold at the then-current price of gold. His gesture paved the way for others to employ bodily secretions in their oeuvre while ironically demonstrating that collectors will buy anything on condition that it is signed -- even if it stinks at first whiff.
2. Andres Serrano's Piss Christ
Photographer Andres Serrano turned up noses in the Eighties when he submerged a small crucifix in a jar of his own urine on the taxpayer's dime. His Piss Christ led to a scandal when blowhards like Senator Jesse Helms publicly stomped all over the artist's jock after it was discovered that the work was created by Serrano using a $15,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant. In 2008, the shutterbug's solo show at a New York gallery featured a suite of photographs celebrating the aesthetic beauty of poop.
3. Keith Boadwee's Anal Targets and Enema Paintings
The West Coast's Keith Boadwee earned notoriety in the early Nineties with his Anal Targets and Enema Paintings created by douching his intestinal tract with buckets of paint he later hosed onto a canvas in dripping, abstract rivulets. His fascination with the everyday and the abject landed Boadwee a teaching gig at the California College of the Arts and an invitation to the Venice Biennale.
4. Martin von Ostrowski's Poop Portrait of Hitler and Semen Self-Portraits
More recently, Germany's Martin von Ostrowski has gained attention for painting a portrait of Hitler using his own feces. Besides the Nazi dictator, his turdy oeuvre includes likenesses of Otto von Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm II. The crapping Hun has since turned his attention to painting with semen, soaking canvases with his spunk to the tune of 40 ejaculations per work. Since 2003, he has splattered his surfaces serially in excess of thousands of times.
5. Lani Beloso's The Period Piece
During a Wynwood Art Walk last year, Lani Beloso surprised viewers with paintings created from her menstrual blood. The artist, who suffers from a condition called Menorraghia, which leads to increased blood flow during her menstrual cycle, was inspired to create a series called The Period Piece. For an entire year, Beloso squatted over canvases capturing her monthly discharge for stretches of up to 12 hours at a time. She later stated that each of her works reflected her "mood, location, and feelings," while hunched uncomfortably for the sake of art.