Though musical and cultural icons Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz (née Kaseem Dean) are known for their hit records and multiple Grammys, but what many people may not know about them is that they’re avid art collectors–and now we’re getting an inside look at their massive collection.
Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys has completely taken over The Brooklyn Museum, putting monumental artworks from Beatz and Keys’ art collection on display in the museum’s Great Hall.
The exhibition features 98 major artworks by important Black American, African, and African diasporic artists, bringing together nearly forty “giants” of the art world including Gordon Parks, Kehinde Wiley, Esther Mahlangu, Barkley L. Hendricks, Lorna Simpson, and Amy Sherald.
“Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys have been among the most vocal advocates for Black creatives to support Black artists through their collecting, advocacy, and partnerships. In the process, they have created one of the most important collections of contemporary art,” notes Anne Pasternak, Shelby White, and Leon Levy Director.
The exhibition opens with an introduction to Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys’ creative lives, featuring Swizz’s BMX bikes and Keys’ “We Are Here” piano. Born and raised New Yorkers, the couple have been making music for decades and have cultivated diverse passions across music, art, and culture.
The exhibition is a display of over twenty-years-worth of art collecting from the Deans which supports living artists, particularly artists of color.
“The collection started not just because we’re art lovers, but also because there’s not enough people of color collecting artists of color,” Swizz told Cultured magazine in 2018.
The exhibition is broken up into various sections, including “On the Shoulders of Giants,” which features work by artists who have left an indelible mark on the world, “Giant Conversations,” which explores how artists have always critiqued and commented on the world around them, and “Giant Presence,” with monumental artworks in the Museum’s Great Hall atrium.
According to a press release the exhibition’s title, “Giants,” refers to several aspects of the Dean Collection: the renown of legendary artists, the impact of canon-expanding contemporary artists, and the monumental works by such creators as Derrick Adams, Arthur Jafa, and Meleko Mokgosi.
The term also evokes the goal of the exhibition to encourage “giant conversations” inspired by the works on view, critiquing society and celebrating Blackness.
Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys is on display at The Brooklyn Museum now through July 7th, 2024.
Following the exhibition, a promised gift of significant works from the artists’ collection will enter the museum’s permanent collection.