When I visited the huge Damien Hirst exhibition staged by the Gagosian Gallery in New York in 1996, one of the most striking pieces was a large glass tank full of live fish. Dumped among the fish were an obstetrical couch, in a rather decayed condition, and various obstetrical implements. For some time after I had seen the show, this image tugged at my mind. It reminded me of something - but of what? Finally, memory dragged up the reference I needed: Hirst's piece was a direct descendant of Salvador Dali's installation, "Rainy Taxi", shown at the International Surrealist Exhibition in Paris in 1938.
"Rainy Taxi" was a broken down old car, in which Dali placed two mannequins. One was the driver, who had the head of a fish. In the back seat there was a blonde woman in an evening dress, seated among lettuces and endives, under a pipe system that supplied a constant fine spray of water. Thriving among the vegetables were two hundred live snails.