Bonwit Teller (department store) has earned a reputation for having Manhattan's screwiest window displays (TIME, Dec. 5). Fortnight ago, Bonwit's smartly hired the world's No. 1 surrealist, Salvador Dali, to create two more screwy windows. Last week Dali gave Bonwit Teller more than it bargained for, all on the hackneyed subject of "Night" and "Day."
For "Day," the dapper, delirious Catalonian placed in one window an old-fashioned bathtub lined with black Persian lamb and filled with water, from which three wax arms arose holding mirrors. Pensive before the tub stood a wax mannequin clothed in green feathers, with long, bright red hair. On the walls, upholstered in purple, small mirrors were fixed here and there, and narcissism was further indicated by narcissuses floating in the tub.
For "Night," Dali showed in another window a mannequin lying on a bed of glowing coals under a stuffed trophy, which the artist described as "the decapitated head and the savage hoofs of a great somnambulist buffalo extenuated by a thousand years of sleep." Working all one night with Bonwit's regular window crew, Surrealissimo Dali finished in time for the store's opening at 9:30 a. m. Then he retired to his hotel.
Came real but prosaic day and Bonwit Teller resumed its ladies garment business. Among its customers appeared ladies who thought the Dali windows "extreme," told the management so. By noon Salvador Dali's sleeping mannequin had been replaced by a seated figure, his bather replaced by a glamor dummy in a tailored suit. No one cared, until late in the afternoon Artist Dali strolled by and saw the havoc that had been made of his havoc-making Freudian designs.
Into the store to the company lawyer rocketed Salvador Dali, sizzling in Spanish and French. Next thing Bonwit's knew the Surrealissimo was in the window with the bathtub. "Oomph" went the tub as he jerked it from the moorings. "Crash" went Bonwit Teller's beautiful plate-glass window as the small struggling artist and his tub went through it and lit "bang" on the sidewalk.
Said Magistrate Louis B. Brodsky in night court later, freeing the artist with a suspended sentence: "These are some of the privileges that an artist with temperament seems to enjoy."