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Monday, February 26, 2024

Giants: Art from the Dean Collection” Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum Showcases Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz’s Massive Art Holdings

Alicia Keys and her husband, the renowned producer and DJ Kasseem Dean, professionally known as Swizz Beatz, are unveiling their impressive art collection in a major exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum’s Great Hall. Titled “Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys,” the show features over 100 monumental artworks from the couple’s extensive collection, providing a unique glimpse into their passion for contemporary art.

The exhibition, set to open on February 10, is a testament to the couple’s status as prominent collectors of Black artists. The show’s location at the Brooklyn Museum, a cultural hub known for its diverse and impactful exhibitions, further solidifies the Deans’ role in championing artists of color. While their celebrity status undoubtedly contributes to the exhibition’s allure, the focus remains on the art itself, spanning various mediums and styles.

Swizz Beatz began collecting art in the 1990s, initially acquiring pieces like an Ansel Adams photograph with proceeds from his early collaborations with DMX. Over the years, his collection has grown substantially, with recent estimates suggesting it comprises thousands of pieces. Notable acquisitions include works by renowned artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Derrick Adams, and Titus Kaphar, some of which have become integral elements of the couple’s daily life, serving as backdrops for movie nights and family gatherings.

The decision to concentrate on African American art was a deliberate choice for the Deans, driven by a desire to support artists who were often overlooked in the market. Swizz Beatz emphasized the changes he has observed in the art world, acknowledging the increased diversity of artists showcased at auctions and fairs. He also stressed the responsibility of collectors to shape the market and contribute to the recognition of underrepresented voices.

Swizz Beatz joined the Brooklyn Museum board in 2019, a move that further fueled his passion for art and accelerated the rate of acquisitions. While the couple is preparing to donate several works from their collection to the museum, the details of the donations are yet to be finalized. Anne Pasternak, the museum’s director, commended the Deans’ genuine passion for developing their collection and their dedication to supporting the museum.

The exhibition planning commenced in 2022, with Swizz Beatz resigning from the museum board late last year to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Both Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz clarified that they are not financing the show and have no intention of selling any of the displayed artworks.

The Brooklyn Museum, known for its dynamic and sometimes controversial exhibitions, has faced criticism in the past for perceived populist shows. However, Pasternak defended the institution’s approach, emphasizing the importance of experimentation and real rigor in programming. The upcoming exhibition adds to the museum’s diverse offerings, showcasing the intersection between musicians and visual artists aiming to effect change through creative expression.

The “Giants” exhibition provides an opportunity for visitors to explore the artistic tastes of two globally acclaimed musicians while emphasizing the strength and depth of their collection. Kimberli Gant, one of the curators involved in organizing the show, highlighted the synergy between musicians and visual artists showcased in the exhibition.

As the Brooklyn Museum continues to experiment with its programming, the “Giants: Art from the Dean Collection” exhibition invites art enthusiasts and music fans alike to appreciate the cultural impact of Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz beyond their musical achievements. The couple’s dedication to supporting Black artists and fostering positive change through art resonates throughout the exhibition, offering a unique perspective on the intersection of creativity and activism.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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