This is the second of two essays on Dali and modern culture. The first, “Swallowing Dali,” appeared in Artforum, September, 1982.

IN MARCH 1939, SALVADOR DALI filled two of the windows of Bonwit Teller’s, in New York, with what we’d now call environmental pieces—Day (Narcissus) and Night (Sleep). Day featured a Victorian-era mannequin Dali had scrounged up in a second-hand shop. It was buxom, dilapidated, and démodé––just the thing, Dali seems to have thought, for hinting at the maggot heap of nostalgia that crawls beneath narcissism’s skin. Bonwit’s customers disliked the creature. Some went so far as to feel outrage, and voiced their feelings so loudly that a store manager felt obliged to substitute a neat, slim, 1939-model mannequin for Dali’s Victorian find. Having worked late on both pieces the night before, the artist didn’t stop by for a look at the results until long after the

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