The Opening of the Brooklyn Museum’s New Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz Exhibit Was a Who’s Who of Black Art

Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, the music industry power couple who have become prolific art collectors, have been known to host private get togethers that bridge their creative fields with those of their celebrity friends and the artists whose work they collect. It made sense on Tuesday night that a reception for the first major museum exhibition of art from their enviable collection worked as the culmination of those soirées on a giant scale.

Opening night of Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys was, in other words, a who’s who of the Black art world.

Tina Knowles, a long-time champion of the Black art community, mingled alongside Tracee Ellis Ross and Lil DurkThelma Golden could be seen having a laugh with Kehinde WileyLil Baby was escorted into the exhibition space and immediately stopped in his tracks to gaze upon a three-piece work by Titus Kaphar. Queen Latifah admired Ebony G. Patterson’s interpretation of a child’s toy-filled bedroom, a crowd of fans quickly surrounded her to take photos. Exhibit artists Nick Cave, Mickalene Thomas, Amy Sherald, and Jordan Casteel were spotted in conversation amongst the crowd. Fabolous dashed in later in the evening showing his support for the Deans, his long time friends. 

The night began with opening remarks by both Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak and Keys and Beatz, who spoke of artists’ duty to champion other artists (her) and the principle of custodianship, as opposed to ownership, that comes with art collecting (him). After curator Kimberli Gant did her best to sum up the monumental nature of the exhibit, and her hopes for its impact among other collectors of Black art, many of its featured artists joined Keys and Beats for a private tour of the works.

Throughout the evening, partygoers made a stop at a pop-up portrait studio in the lobby of the museum helmed by Jamel Shabazz, who has several large prints of his photographs in the show and is known for capturing street style  of the hip-hop community from its inception.  

As the night wrapped up, the Deans left with a glow and big smiles on their faces. No better kick off to Black History Month than with a joyous celebration of Black art. 

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