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Keys, Swizz Beatz Unleash 'Giants' Masterpieces at BK Museum

A new exhibition featuring works from the private art collection of musicians Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys spotlights large-scale works from Black artists.

Two titans of the music industry, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, will showcase their vast art collection through an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum starting on Saturday.

"Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys," features a total of 98 pieces from the Dean Collection, or art accumulated over 20 years by Beatz (born Kasseem Dean) and his wife, Keys.

This is the first time the couple, both native New Yorkers, is showing works from their collection to the public.

"Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys" is a new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum opening February 11. Photo: J Boogie Love Photography

Featuring works solely by Black artists, the show includes works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kehinde Wiley, Nick Cave, Jamel Shabazz, Nick Cave, Amy Sherald, and others.

The exhibit's name carries several meanings, but quite literally, it points to the massive scale of many of the art work.

“It's a very conscious decision by the Deans to collect monumentally scaled work,” said the exhibition’s curator Kimberli Gant, who has been working with the couple on the exhibition for the last two years. “We don't often see giant works by artists of color in museums.”

These giant works, such as Kehinde Wiley’s 25-foot-long painting “Femme Piquée par un Serpent" (2008), and Arthur Jafa’s massive “Big Wheel I,” (2018) are arresting in the power. One work, "Bread, Butter and Power," by Botswanan artist Meleko Mokgosi, takes up an entire room.

Femme Piquée par un Serpent (2008) by Kehinde Wiley. Photo: Christopher Edwards for BK Reader.

The title is also metaphorical, with "Giants" referring to the artists themselves, as well as the audience.

“Every person that’s hanging on the walls is just like you and I,” said Keys in a promotional video for the exhibition. “We want you to see that you are also a giant, that you are special, incredible, unique.”

Gant first became aware of the Dean collection after seeing some of the works displayed in the couple’s home in a 2021 Architectural Digest profile. Several of the those pieces, such as the vibrant painting “Floater 74” (2018) by Derrick Adams, made it to the exhibition.

“Floater 74” (2018) by Derrick Adams. Photo: Christopher Edwards for BK Reader.

“They are incredible advocates for the artists that they have in their collection,” Gant said. “The Deans are musicians, but they see a lot of parallels in the art world.”

Some of the featured artists, such as Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, attended the exhibition’s opening reception earlier this week.

"Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys" opens on February 10 and runs through July 7.

Christopher Edwards

About the Author: Christopher Edwards

Christopher Edwards is a native Brooklynite and current student at Baruch College, majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing.
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