ArtBasel Miami – December light

ArtBasel Miami – December light

A new neuroscience study makes the distinction between the “traditional” art and modern art, as being the difference between what’s expected, and the unexpected, between what’s safe, and what’s unsure, between comfort and change, between same and growth, between bottom-up thinking and top-down thinking.

And I have to tell you, that with 12 years of art school behind me, and after continuing as an oil painter, sculptor and graphic artist, for the sheer creative joy of it, even though I still appreciate the lyricism and “reality” of what we call conventional art, I’d trade it all for modern art every single time.

Art can be intimidating. It is easier to be open to something that you’re more familiar with, yes, it is. So I don’t suggest taking a complete novice to the MoMA for their first art outing.

But once you’ve been to a couple of classical art museums that will delect your spirit and ignite your imagination, try to get out of your comfort zone and go explore the brilliant minds of the post-renaissance, modern artists that span the artistic realms from the 1850s or so into the 1970s. Dare I suggest you continue exploring past the 1970’s, looking at contemporary artists creating masterpieces with the help of AI, blockchain, and showcasing their work in the Metaverse? We’ll take a look at contemporary artists and their works in a further article, but for today, let us bring you some of the best that Modern Art has to offer.

Modern art does not mean such an alien thing as you might think. We all have been presented with at one point, and it exists in our common cultural knowledge, a work called Starry Night, by none other than Vincent van Gogh, and Oscar-Claude Monet’s Water Lilies… there’s so much life in that painting… Frida Khalo and Mark Rothko are also in the modern artists’ group. I’m sure that the more you explore in this field, the more familiar you realize that you are with some of the works and some of the artists.

But I digress…

In the United States, and since 2002, we’ve had the privilege to come face to face, or better yet, soul to soul, with the masterpieces of modern art, as well as an array of spellbinding contemporary artists, once a year, in Miami.  This yearly event is made manifest by the creators of Art Basel, the pre-eminent modern art fair in the world. The main Art Basel show is in, well, Basel, Switzerland. But they’ve expanded into the US market with the Art Basel Miami week, and into Asia, with Art Basel Hong Kong, to bring modern and contemporary art to the world.


This past December we were privileged to attend Art Basel Miami which had taken over the entire Miami Convention Center and a lot of other Miami neighborhoods. The event was massive, with art curated into different sections that could focus on either new artists, new art trends, curated art pieces by one artist, special galleries, installations, design, architecture, with a focus on the Americas, North and South, but not lacking the art or the gallery presence from places like Paris, Madrid, Berlin, and many other European and Asian’ cities.

It’s art, and also discussions around art, with panels that explore the impact of art on our society, and vice-versa, the voices of women in art, the new tech developments that keep taking artists into the highly technical areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, and blockchain.

Inspiring, from the moment you get in, to the moment you have to leave because you are overwhelmed with beauty and the powerful creativity of the human spirit…

Among the greats like Picasso, Rothko, Miro, Khalo, Monet, Chagall, Kandinsky, Giacometti and Soulages, we were able to discover the new, the fresh, the ones that don’t exhibit much in the U.S., the artists that are shown to the North American art market once in a lifetime, in shows like this one…

Every gallery that is showing not only exhibits but is also selling the masterpieces that they’re exhibiting. This is a not-to-miss show for any art collector. Discover and take home new artists. Adorn your home, office, or gallery with one-of-a-kind art from the newest or the most revered artists of our time.

It is almost indescribable, this feeling of hope you have when you see how creative the human spirit is. Art is how future generations will remember us. Yes, we have our technology, and that will impact the future. But the soul of our society is in its art, and because we live in 2019, it is modern and contemporary art.

You can see humanity at the Art Basel Miami show. You can see us exactly how we are today, how we’ve been in the past 50 years. Not always pretty. Not always equal. Not always good. But always creative, pushing all boundaries, just like the enduring human spirit… Even from a strict anthropological point of view, you have to go check out this once-per-year show. It is the zeitgeist, to be observed and recorded for future generations.

It’s in early December, in Miami Beach, and it’s worth the trip. It’s Miami, it’s swanky art parties all over the city, it’s warm and there’s a beautiful beach less than a stone’s throw away. Oh, and did we mention that it is in the Art Deco district? Architecture is like no other in the entire US. We highly recommend taking a flight to Miami for the weekend.


Now, about the actual artists that were shown, we have a few favorites. We also looked at the work of specific female artists that have influenced not only their generation but also all the future generations of artists following them.

The Women of ArtBasel

Of mention, and my favorite piece in the entire show was Helen Frankenthaler’s White Joy, 1981 (cover image for the article). A monumental piece that almost brought me to tears. I cannot tell you exactly why this piece had so much power over me, but it did, and it continues to do so. What hit me first was the almost translucent layering of colors, the lyrical movement on the canvas, the contrast between translucency and harsh materialities, the feeling of finding deeper meaning the longer you peered into its depths, with even more subtle suggestions of connecting to something eternal, sublime, and even a bit alien. ArtBasel Miami 2019 for me means this painting. Every year, the show gives me the opportunity to be awe-struck, inspired, to come alive, by offering something like this. And in turn, I humbly offer my gratitude and a modest commentary on the grandeur of our modern and contemporary artists’ works. I encourage you to go to ArtBasel, let yourself be inspired, let yourself be transported into the realm of what is possible, and let yourself experience full connection and deep joy when you come across your White Joy.




The Established Greats


The New Greats


Personal Favorites

Things I’ve liked, for reasons too numerous to list…



Don’t feel intimidated by “art people”. Instead, try to eliminate the not-knowing, the not-feeling that comes from too little art in our lives.

Art is meant to be experienced, felt, lived. And as beautiful as the pictures we took are, none of them do justice to the work, to the artistry, to their legacy, to the emotional impact these artworks have on you. Go see art. Most of the big cities have well-curated museums with big collections and smaller galleries with more innovative, newer works. But it’s not every day that the world of creativity comes to your town for a week. Expand your world. Elevate your soul. Make time for art. Take a trip to Miami in December.


Text: Monica Antohi
Images: Monica Antohi and Oscar Clop of TBM4W. No filters, no adjusting beyond cropping and tilt-shift.


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