ArtCentric Blog


Elisa Turner has been called “Miami’s art critic.” Probably a lot of other things too, but we won’t go there. She was an art critic for The Miami Herald when it was still owned by Knight Ridder, which no longer exists. Now that her Herald byline no longer exists either, this award-winning journalist is for sure not shutting up. She is the Miami correspondent for the award-winning ARTnews magazine based in New York and the Artcentric columnist for Art Circuits, Miami’s excellent print and online guide to the visual arts. Check it out at Her favorite artists? WAY TOO NUMEROUS TO MENTION! International assignments for the Knight Ridder Miami Herald? Havana, Venice, Basel (Switzerland, of course), and Haiti. Favorite cocktail? White chocolate martini. Gourmet dish she would love to see on a menu? Chicken Alaska. Personal details? Over 30 years ago she married her college sweetheart, who is half-Cuban and Miami-born. Together they raised two wonderful young adults. She is proud to teach subject-verb agreement , and other essentials to writing well, at Miami Dade College, because we all need to know how to make our subjects and verbs agree!


Past Articles:


  • March 2019
  • February 2019
  • January 2019
  • December 2018
  • November 2018
  • October 2018
  • September 2018
  • August 2018
  • September 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • MIAMI: Central Marketplace for Modernist Cuban Art / Fall 2012

    Nurtured by sunlight from this city’s warm smile, the Modernist Cuban art market flourishes in Miami.  Consider how abundant artworks redolent with Cuban-born talent converge in Miami and South Florida public art, galleries, museums, private collections.“Since Art Basel Miami Beach came here, Cuban art has become a new, interesting frontier for collectors,” says Janda Wetherington of PanAmericanArtProjects in Miami’s Wynwood.  “I see a lot of interest in Cuban abstract art from the early 1950s to early 1970s, including paintings by Guido Llinas.“Unquestionably, Miami is the center of Cuban art,” says Miami veteran dealer Ramon Cernuda of Cernuda Arte.   “The collector base of the city is impressive,” he adds, noting its increased commitment to art historic quality.  “By the late 1960s we started seeing some families who had income to buy art.  A South Florida museum is now planning an exhibit of Amelia Peláez.  It’s a very serious project,” Cernuda says.  He’s positive that to obtain loans for this exhibition, the museum will not have to look for many major artworks beyond local private collections.

    A woman ahead of her time, Amelia Peláez (1895-1968) was a pioneer.  Peláez, with Wifredo Lam and Carlos Enríquez, belongs to a significant group of artists who began the modernist Cuban art movement in the 1920s. Often called Vanguardia painters, they were born around the turn of the 20th Century and witnessed political turmoil engulfing Cuba as it sought to become a sovereign nation. They were pivotal members of a Cuban generation defining its identity.

    Most Vanguardia painters studied in Europe before returning to Cuba to paint some of their most renowned works. They fused Modernist styles of such European masters as Matisse and Cézanne with imagery reflecting their homeland’s architectural and Afro-Caribbean cultural traditions, adding generous dollops of brilliant color and jazzy linear rhythms.  Old World Modernist movements such as constructivism and surrealism became part of this unique New World art historical mix.

    Miami’s central role as a market for Cuban art reflects the financial and social growth of the city’s Cuban American community, says Alejandro Anreus, art history and Latin American studies professor of New Jersey’s William Paterson University.  Recently Anreus delivered packed lectures at Cernuda Arte on second generation Cuban modernists Mariano Rodríguez and René Portocarrero.


    Miami is a must-see marketplace for Cuban art, he adds, thanks to “the work of curators and art historians and galleries.” Their combined efforts demonstrate that “Cuban modernist art is part of the larger story of modernism in the Western Hemisphere.”  Moreover, Latin American art, Anreus explains, “is no longer viewed as a step-child but as an integral part of modernism.”


    A new wave of Cuban modernist artists currently catches attention with curators and collectors, dealers and auction houses.   They’re best known for geometric abstractions, exploring hard-edge, clearly defined or “concrete” forms. Generally, these artists do not exult in so-called “hot tropical colors” often pervading paintings by Peláez and Portocarrero.  “The concrete artists from the 1950s were totally forgotten,” says Cernuda, “until a recent museum exhibition in Madrid, called ‘Cold America.’ That movement has really taken off.  It is now being collected at the national level.”

    Presented at Madrid’s Juan March Foundation in 2011, “Cold America” tells the story of Latin American geometric abstraction from 1934 to 1973. It brings together some 300 artworks by over 60 artists from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Uruguay, Venezuela.  They took cues from artists like Mondrian and Alexander Calder to refashion their own take on this elegant, pared-down aesthetic.  Representing Cuba in this show:  Sandu Darie, also women Lolo Soldevilla, Carmen Herrera.

    Several years ago, Herrera was the focus of a superb exhibit in Miami. Once shamefully overlooked, art by both Herrera and Soldevilla gains impressive cachet. “We bought a painting by Soldevilla about four years ago for about $1,000. We now have one going to market at auction with an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000. It will probably sell at the high end,” says Cernuda.  Compared to five years ago, the demand for her art now, he says, is “enormous.

    So it goes in the Miami marketplace for Cuban art.  New discoveries, prices, exhibits are ever imminent.  Second generation modernists Mariano and Mario Carreño make waves at auction.  Like Peláez, Carlos Enríquez is overdue for a major exhibition, Anreus says.

    Cuba excels in the visual arts. “We can no longer go by conventional boundaries of conventional geography,” Anreus adds.  “Cuban art can be made in Miami, Cuba,  Mexico City, Madrid—anywhere there is a Cuban making art, it is Cuban art.”

    Lolo Soldevilla, Construccion, 1956, Madera, 24 x 34 in. Courtesy of Maxoly / Latin Art Core. Modernist paintings by Cuban-born Lolo Soldevilla increase in art historic value thanks to recent, pioneering exhibit on geometric abstraction in Latin America. ET

    Cundo Bermudez, Ways of Performing, 2006. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County/Ziff Ballet Opera House. Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection. Cuban Modernist painter Cundo Bermudez, especially revered for his work in the 1940s and 1950s, created a spectacular public art work for Miami.ET

    René Portocarrero, Vista de La Ciudad de La Habana, (View of the City of Havana), 1970, mixed media on heavy paper laid down on board, 19 ¾ x 26 in. Courtesy of Cernuda Arte. Cuban modernist painter René Portocarrero brought a tropical sense of the baroque to his dense portraits of Havana, replete with his signature cathedral domes and spires. ET

    Guido Llinas, Pintura Roja, 1961, Oil on canvas, 55.50 x 58.75 inches. Courtesy of PanAmerican Art Projects. Guido Llinas earned acclaim in the early 1950s in Cuba for his adventurous take on Abstract Expressionism before leaving the island to live and work in Paris.ET

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