Blog Archive

Friday, March 1, 2019

Fondation Vasarely, Martin Lewis, Fake News, Quote for the Month

Fondation Vasarely 

I first came across the artist Victor Vasarely at an exhibition at Compton Verney in Warwickshire “Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception” in 2015. He was born in Pecs in Hungary in 1906 and emigrated to France before the war where he worked at Havas and other Ad Agencies as a successful graphic designer. 

Vasarely's new design for Renault

He was fascinated by perspective, colour, simplicity and wanted to make his art attractive to the public, not just a small clique of intellectuals, and intended to influence architecture to make cities better for their people. Part of his training was at the Budapest Bauhaus. He is known as the father of ‘Op Art’. Many of his works appear to move or have depth and play tricks on your eyes, much like some of the work of Bridget Riley. 

Fondation Vasarely, Aix

In 1976, he opened the Fondation Vasarely in Aix en Provence. It was not supposed to be a museum or a monument to his work, but a place where artists, architects and the public could meet to pursue his objectives. Its unique design consists of 16 hexagonal ‘alvéoles’ or cells, containing 42 masterpieces, each measuring 5 metres wide by 8 metres high – i.e. enormous. The buildings have just been restored after decades of decay and the whole experience is stunning. As you move through the hexagons, the art just gets more and more striking. Upstairs there are a couple of exhibitions with smaller works of art, but equally enthralling. 

Fondation Vasarely, Aix

From the outside, the Foundation is a memorable architectural design with the appearance of a series of huge cubes, each with a black or a white circle. It sits opposite Mt. St. Victoire in homage to Cezanne. 

La Fondation Vasarely, Aix

His work is inspirational.

Whilst we were in the area, we visited Cassis (the final s is silent) a beautiful little fishing village just east of Marseilles. With only small boats, the port with its cafés and restuarants is southern France at its best. A few fishermen were selling their wares, still moving, on the pavement – sea urchins, big ugly head monkfishes (just the head or just the body or both) and various other fish and shellfishes. 

Route des Crêtes

Just above Cassis is the Route des Crêtes, an astonishing 15km long load stretching over the cliffs from Cassis to La Ciotat, way up high. The road is high quality, very twisty and with some of the most amazing views out over the sea, the clanaques (narrow steep walled inlets, famous in this area for their beauty) and the mountains. 

Martin Lewis

Scam victory!

I watched a live interview with Martin Lewis on ITV's Good Morning Britain in which he explained how a grandmother with the care of her grandchildren following their parents' death, was scammed out of a large amount of money. With tears in his eyes, Lewis quoted the grandmother who said that she gave her money over to the scammers 'because she trusted Martin Lewis'. They were using his image and reputation illegally.

Lewis, who does no advertising or endorsements, had been unable to stop the advertisers illegally using his image and name to promote their products on Facebook. As a result, he decided to sue the social media giant to get it stopped. He eventually got a great settlement with Facebook, but the effort he had to put in, along with all his other work, was probably a contributory factor to his current illness.

Here it is explained in The Guardian on January 23rd 2019:

"The consumer finance journalist Martin Lewis is dropping his lawsuit against Facebook over its repeated failure to prevent scam adverts from using his name and image, after the company agreed to donate £3m to set up an anti-scam project with Citizens Advice and launch a UK-specific one-click reporting tool.

Facebook’s donation to Citizens Advice, which will total £2.5m in cash as well as £500,000 of vouchers for the company’s online ad service, will be used to fund an independent scam prevention project, Citizens Advice Scams Action (Casa). When Casa launches in May, it will work to identify and tackle online scams, as well as support victims.

The social network will also launch a UK-specific tool that lets British users easily and quickly flag ads they believe to be scams. It will be backed up by a dedicated internal team to handle the reports. It will also proactively investigate trends and find and shut down violating ads."

This is apparently the largest ever settlement of its kind. My admiration for Lewis only increases as I see the passion with which he strives to help people who struggle to understand how best to manage their finances. From the retiree who is getting a terrible interest rate, to the struggling couple who need to get their debts reduced to survive. He devises simple, understandable plans with delicacy and diplomacy, that they can implement quickly. You can see he really cares and that he gets a kick out of helping people.

Hats off to Martin Lewis!

Not Fake News

Here is my regular piece on what looks like Fake News but in fact turns out to be the truth and nothing but the truth. This month, it’s about Microsoft indirectly banning access to the Daily Mail as it failed to meet basic standards of accuracy and accountability!

“Microsoft’s internet browser is warning users not to trust the Daily Mail’s journalism as part of a feature designed to fight fake news. Visitors to Mail Online who use Microsoft Edge can now see a statement asserting that “this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability” and “has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases”.

The Guardian January 23rd 2019
The message, which is produced by a third-party startup called NewsGuard, tells readers to proceed carefully given that “the site regularly publishes content that has damaged reputations, caused widespread alarm, or constituted harassment or invasion of privacy”.

It gives Mail Online, one of the world’s biggest news websites, one out of five on credibility – the same level as the Kremlin-backed RT news service.”

Apparently this was changed a few days later to allow access without the warning message. Not sure that was justified!

Quote for the Month

“The way people feel has nothing to do with what makes sense.”
The Romanovs, Amazon TV, 2018.

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