Call it an embarrassment of riches: The musician Alicia Keys and her husband Kasseem Dean, the producer and D.J. known professionally as Swizz Beatz, have purchased such massive artworks that only a few could squeeze inside their homes in California, New York and New Jersey. Some colossal paintings by artists like Kehinde Wiley, Derrick Adams and Titus Kaphar eventually got through the door and became staples of the couple’s daily routine — backdrops to movie nights and family parties.
“We have never seen all these artworks in one room,” Keys said in a recent interview. That will change on Feb. 10 when monumental artworks from their collection star in a major exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum’s Great Hall.
Called “Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys,” the show, by dint of its location, endorses the couple as leading collectors of Black artists, though the obvious draw of their own star power cannot be denied. Keys is a Grammy Award-winning singer with a musical, “Hell’s Kitchen,” headed to Broadway this spring and Dean has produced hits with performers like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and DMX.
“There is great brand recognition with the Deans,” said Kimberli Gant, a curator of modern and contemporary art who helped organize the exhibition of more than 100 artworks and was involved in the museum’s recent Spike Lee show. “People love Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys, but they don’t know them as collectors.”
Dean started collecting as a teenager in the 1990s, when he bought an Ansel Adams photograph with proceeds from his first records with DMX. But the size and scale of his acquisitions of market favorites has grown since then. Five years ago, he estimated that there were about 400 pieces in his collection; now, he says, that number is in the thousands. Recent purchases include a 2018 Derrick Adams painting, “Floater 74,” which will be on view at the exhibition. The 25-foot-long picture of Black figures relaxing in a pool used to hang in the couple’s living room, creating a blue horizon dotted by inflatable flamingos and other pool toys above a dining area and sectional sofa.