Besides being internationally-acclaimed musicians in their own rights, US-based Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys have become well-known for their avid passion for art collecting, having amassed a considerable collection of contemporary and street art over the past decade.
Known as 'The Dean Collection', the couple's extensive set of artworks span a variety of mediums and styles and provide a fascinating look into their unique tastes. The collection presents an eclectic mix of works from both established and emerging artists. It's hard not to be fascinated by the breadth and depth of the work.
Kasseem Dean (b.1978), better known as Swizz Beatz, is a record producer, rapper, and entrepreneur. Throughout the 90s and 00s Dean achieved great success in the music industry, having worked with DMX, Timbaland, Kanye West, Jay Z and T.I, to name just a few. Dean has created several hit songs and has even launched his own record label, Full Surface Records.
Kanye West once referred to Dean as "the best rap producer of all time".
Alicia Augello Cook (b.1981), better known by her stage name Alicia Keys is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actress who also achieved considerable success in the music industry. Throughout her career, Keys has sold over 35 million albums and won 15 Grammy Awards which helped her cement her status as a global superstar.
In addition to their musical success, the couple have also pursued other business ventures, including launching a fashion line and a variety of investments in-and-around the art industry.
Ever since the couple first met, art has always been a central part of their relationship. For Swizz, art and music are ‘Brothers And Sisters':
"Music and art are brothers and sisters since day one. And they always spoke to me and through me and I think they always spoke to and through everyone as well."
- Swizz Beatz
Through their holdings amassed in what has come to be known as the Dean Collection, the couple have minted themselves as avid patrons with a mission to build a protective community around the artists they support.
Over the last decade, the Dean Collection has amassed more than 1,000 works from a range of artists including Kehinde Wiley, KAWS, Keith Haring, Jeffrey Gibson, and Ansel Adams.
The works’ themes often touch on issues of power, history, race, and gender. The collection is also dynamic in the way it represents a large number of women artists.
On his passion for supporting artists of colour, Beatz has said: “There just wasn’t enough of us collecting us”.
“When you hear a song or something we’ve produced, the foundation is to make people feel good and feel loved. That’s what our art is about"
Today, Swizz and Alicia's 11,000-square-foot Californian home in La Jolla is full of beautiful pieces focusing on African-American art made by black artists such as Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Henry Taylor, Kehinde Wiley, and Barkley L. Hendricks.
La Jolla, the couple's art-filled Californian home
Aside from operating as a traditional art collection, Swizz and Alicia are also committed to giving back to the community. The Dean Collection provides education and public engagement opportunities through its various programs and initiatives. For example, the Dean Scholars Program offers full-tuition scholarships to young people from underserved communities who are interested in pursuing careers in the arts.
The Dean Collection also hosts regular events and exhibitions, giving a space for dialogue and exchange between artists, scholars, and the general public.
In short, the platform's primary goal is to create opportunities for black artists and to help foster a more diverse and inclusive art world. Additionally, they hope to influence future generations of collectors and promote cross-cultural understanding.
In addition to the collection, the couple have also donated millions of dollars to a range of art-related causes. Their first major donation was to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where they helped to fund the renovation of a wing dedicated to modern and contemporary art. They have also sponsored a smaller art operations, such as the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Furthermore, they regularly hold auctions and benefit concerts to raise funds for arts education programs.
"At the end of the day it's all art. Name one musical color that didn't include art and name one artist today you venture doesn't listen to music. They always went together. And using both of those brothers and sisters to fuel education, positivity, entry points in the world I think is amazing"