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 behind me, and after continuing as an oil painter for the sheer joy of it, even though I still enjoy the lyricism and “reality” of what we call “conventional” art, I’d trade that 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 traditional art museums that will delect your spirit with, to them, the newly explored forms, myths, and colors, 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.

Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll know a few of them already. For starters, let’s look at Starry Night, by none other than Vincent van Gogh, or 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.

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 the modern art, as well as all of the upcoming artists of our times, once a year, in Miami.  This yearly event is made manifest by the creators of Art Basel, the pre-eminent modern art “conference” in the world. The main Art Basel show is in, well, Basel, Switzerland. But they’ve expanded into the U.S. with the Art Basel Miami week, and into Asia, with Art Basel Hong Kong, to bring modern 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 the neighborhood. The event was massive, with arts curated into different sections that could focus on either new artists, new art trends, curated art pieces by one artist, special galleries, and installations, 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 discussion around art, with panels that explore the impact of art to our society, and vice-versa, the voices of women in art, the

Beautiful, 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 market once, 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 the 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 technology, and that will impact the future. But the soul of our society is art, and because we live in 2019, it is modern 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, 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’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 throw away. Oh, and did we mention that it is in the Art Deco district? Architecture is like no other in the entire U.S. 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 of the entire show, was Helen Frankenthaler’s White Joy, 1981. A monumental piece that almost brought me to tears. Can’t tell you why, can’t tell you why this piece had so much power over me, but it did, and it continues to do. The almost translucent colors, the lyrical movement of the colors on the canvas, all awe-inspiring…



The Established Greats


The New Greats

How is this art? a.k.a., The kitsch and uninspiring but commercially successful

I don’t think that you should be surprised at this point that I don’t like Koontz. I don’t. I don’t think that that’s art. I know. Art is in the eye of the beholder. But art is supposed to mean more than making things shiny. There has to be an emotional connection and meaning behind the art, at least for the artist. What Koontz does, in my very humble opinion of just an artist and an art student and a long time museum-goer, is furniture. Don’t get me wrong, there is some furniture that is pure art and pure artistry. Koontz’s pieces, to me, are dead, soulless… It may be just me, but I can’t connect to a shiny painted aluminum pink egg with an orange bow on top. I don’t see the artistry in that. Is it pretty? Sure. Is it art? That’s highly debatable. But it fits the needs of the corporate art buyers for big art that can be displayed in the lobbies of their buildings. So he gets purchased, a lot, and for a lot of money. But that doesn’t make it art. I might be harsh, but Warhol kinda belongs in this same “commercial building” category. There aren’t many, if any, pieces of his that I’d hang in my house.


Personal Favorites

Things I’ve liked, for reasons I just can’t iterate…



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 felt. And as beautiful the pictures we took are, none of them do justice to the artworks, to the artists, to their legacy which is what emotions their art elicits in you.  Go see art. Most of the time it’s free. But not always 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: TBM4W
Images: Oscar Clop of TBM4W. No filters, no adjusting beyond cropping and tilt-shift.


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