Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys is the first major exhibition of the world-class art collection owned by musical and cultural icons Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Dean) and Alicia Keys. Today, in honor of Juneteenth and the celebration of Black art, the Deans announced that the groundbreaking and history-making exhibition first shown at New York’s Brooklyn Museum will commence a world tour starting with a presentation at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. Further dates and details to be announced soon.  


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“Our mission has always been about making art accessible to everyone and showcasing these GIANT  artists. We realized quickly that meant this collection had to travel to communities across the country and the world. We are so pleased that Atlanta and the High Museum of Art is the first stop on the GIANT tour,” said the Deans. “ATL is an important part of my story since I went to Stone Mountain High, Redan High and Open Campus. I started DJing parties as a kid at Atrium and Club Flavors too! So, bringing Giants to the High is an Art homecoming  for me!” said Mr. Dean. 

Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, where it debuted in February, “Giants” will feature a focused selection from the couple’s holdings, spotlighting works by multigenerational Black diasporic artists, from 20th century legends such as Nick Cave, Lorna Simpson and Barkley L. Hendricks, to artists of a younger generation including Kehinde Wiley, Deana Lawson, Amy Sherald and Ebony G. Patterson, who are expanding the legacies of those who came before them. 

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“Giants” stands as a testament to the Deans’ ethos of “collecting and preserving the culture of ourselves for ourselves, now and into the future.” Through approximately 115 objects, including 98 major artworks, the exhibition will trace the evolution of an audacious and ambitious collection and explore the ways in which the featured artists and their work have grappled with societal issues, embraced monumentality and made a palpable impact on the art canon. In addition to paintings, photographs and sculptures, the galleries will include noteworthy examples of the Deans’ early non-art collecting interests, including albums, musical equipment and BMX bikes, along with related ephemera. 

Born and raised New Yorkers, the couple have been making music for decades and have cultivated diverse passions across music, art and culture. Swizz began his career working first as a DJ and later as a performer and producer for his family’s record label, Ruff Ryders, at the age of 17. Keys, a 16-time Grammy Award-winning artist, learned to play the piano as a child, releasing her hit debut album when she was 20 years old. 

Paying homage to legendary elder artists, the section “On the Shoulders of Giants” features work by artists who have left an indelible mark on the world. In her large, colorful abstract paintings, Esther Mahlangu reimagines the long-standing tradition of South African Ndebele house painting. The legacy of portrait and street photography are exemplified in the works of Kwame Brathwaite, Malick Sidibé and Parks, the last of which the Deans hold the largest private collection. These internationally renowned photographers documented moments of self-presentation and pride, as well as everyday life and sociopolitical milestones. They, along with artists such as Jean Michel Basquiat, Ernie Barnes and Hendricks, not only captured the moment in which they lived but also laid the foundation for current and future generations of artists. 

The “Giant Conversations” section explores how artists have always critiqued and commented on the world around them. The artists on view address a range of issues Black people have faced throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Simpson’s “Tense” (1991) considers Black women’s self-representation within an environment where others often define that representation. Cave’s textured sculptures examine how Black people, particularly men, must assume costumes to conceal and protect themselves against violence. Other artists such as Jerome Lagarrigue and Henry Taylor present issues of protest and lack of visibility due to homelessness. 

Works on view also celebrate Blackness and champion the beauty, resilience, distinctiveness, connection and joyousness within communities across the globe. Over a dozen photographs by Jamel Shabazz honor the everyday people walking the streets of New York from the 1980s to the present. Defying stereotypical depictions of his country by the West, Hassan Hajjaj captures Morocco’s female henna artists in one photograph on view. Sherald’s large-scale diptych portrays Baltimore, Maryland, dirt bike culture and the joyful freedom that comes with riding—a passion Swizz shares. 

The “Giant Presence” section of the exhibition offers an impressive finale of monumental artworks. Nina Chanel Abney’s “Catfish” (2017) is a visual provocation about sexual and financial exchange between individuals in a colorful, almost cartoonish, setting. With his nearly 8-foot-tall “Big Wheel I” (2018), Arthur Jafa draws from Mississippi’s monster truck culture and histories of anti-Black violence, underscoring the coexistence of Black Americans’ joys and traumas. Paintings by Titus Kaphar and Meleko Mokgosi also use scale to emphasize powerful themes that resonate across history.