“Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole”
– The Modern Lovers
Last Thursday evening we were driving home from Wales. Clare was sitting beside me and the kids had fallen asleep on the back seat. The two grown-ups were about to have a proper grown-up conversation when a jet black Citroën Xsara Picasso overtook us somewhat aggressively. The grown-up conversation was put on hold. “The Citroën Picasso,” I snarled with mild indignation. “What do you think old Pablo would have made of that?”
“I wouldn’t know,” said Clare. “Why don’t you tell me. I can see you’re itching to.”
So I did:
“I think he would have hated it. I mean, there he is: this major big-ass icon of the 20th Century, a bona fide cultural heavyweight who revolutionised art and transformed the way in which we see the world. People like that don’t want to end up becoming synonymous with a safe and sensible family car. It’s bad for the image. If you ask me, I think he’d be pretty damned furious that his descendants were so willing to whore his name off so indiscriminately.”
“Really?” said Clare, somewhat dryly. “I bet they didn’t get a penny.”
“Really?” said I, somewhat dimly. “That makes it worse. At least, I think that makes it worse.”
There was a moment’s silence as I gathered my thoughts and watched the red tail lights of the popular MPV fade into the distance.
“It’s all about design principles,” I continued. “If you’re going to name a car after someone like Picasso then at least try to remain faithful to your source of inspiration. A proper Citroën Picasso wouldn’t look anything like that. For one thing, there’d be none of those functionally streamlined elegant curves. The real deal would be cube-like, wilfully asymmetrical and feature oblique references to the Spanish Civil War. Plus, all the wheels would be different sizes.”
“It’d be a bugger to drive,” said Clare. “You struggle with parallel parking at the best of times.”
I was now in full-on monologue mode, so I managed to deftly side-step my partner’s sarcasm: “Why stop with Picasso?” I said. “I want to see a range of family-friendly, design classic MPVs inspired by the greatest artists of the 20th Century. Just imagine a Citroën Dalí! A vulgar egg-shaped monstrosity with a massive pair of waxed windscreen wipers, a melting speedo and a Sat Nav that refers to itself in the third person.”
“Or a Citroën Pollock,” said Clare.
“What’s that like?” I asked.
“It’s like a Citroën Picasso that’s been in an accident.”