HIP-HOP’S INTEREST in contemporary art is, by now, something of a cliché. American materialism has been at the center of rap lyrics since at least 1982, when Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five rhymed about stolen TVs and “double-digit inflation.” But long before Jay-Z was rapping about wanting “a Picasso in my casa,” before Kanye West was putting a Takashi Murakami on an album cover, before Kendrick Lamar was restaging Gordon Parks photographs in a music video, before Beyoncé, after having already paid homage to the Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist in a promotional film for her album “Lemonade,” filmed another video with Jay-Z, her husband, inside the Louvre, before Drake cited James Turrell as an influence on the visuals for one of his tours in the same interview in which he said Jay-Z makes too many art references in his lyrics and claimed “the whole rap/art world thing is getting kind of corny” — there was the hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz, who had his first hit single in the late ’90s while still a teenager, and who used the money to buy an Ansel Adams photograph.
Swizz Beatz, whose real name is Kasseem Dean, lives in a house in Englewood, N.J., that used to belong to Eddie Murphy. Its driveway is long enough that, after a taxi had dropped me at the front gate and I buzzed the intercom, an assistant had to come down in her car to pick me up. Just inside the foyer were a set of 1978 portraits of Muhammad Ali by Andy Warhol. In the living room were a couple of Gordon Parks photographs — one of a Harlem gang leader, from 1948, the other of Ali training in London in 1966. (Dean has the largest collection of Parks photographs in private hands, and some of them will go on view in a show at Harvard this spring.) There was also a Grammy placed inconspicuously on a coffee table. Down a long, glassed-in hallway, I arrived at an enormous white room where hanging on one wall was a 2008 Kehinde Wiley painting, 25-feet long and 8-and-a-half-feet high, depicting a black man in a green hoodie reclining in a position reminiscent of Auguste Clésinger’s 1847 marble sculpture “Femme Piquée par un Serpent” (or “Woman Bitten by a Snake”), which gives the painting its name. In the back of the room was a 19-foot-tall wooden sculpture from 2013 by Kaws, a rendition of the artist’s funereal Mickey Mouse figure, with X’s for eyes and disfigured mouse ears. That the work fit indoors at all seemed to be some kind of logistical miracle. “There’s no way I was going to put it outside,” Dean tells me. “What if it snowed?” This room, he admits, started out as a “man cave,” but once the Kaws sculpture arrived and the Wylie painting was hung, it turned into something more like a gallery. “They became like brothers,” he says.
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There is something about the home that doesn’t quite fit with its owner’s personality. It’s not exactly showy, though I also can’t bring myself to call an enormous sculpture of a deranged Mickey Mouse understated. And yet in person, Dean is soft-spoken and almost comically modest. He was wearing a cast when I visited him, a souvenir from the 40th birthday party that his wife, Alicia Keys, threw for him a few days earlier at the World on Wheels skating rink in Los Angeles. He tells me the story: Beyoncé was pulling off some elegant moves on her skates, and so he attempted a spin and fell hard, breaking his arm in five places. But the party had just started — all his friends had come out, and he knew his wife was going to unveil his present soon, and he didn’t want to disappoint anyone, so he downplayed the pain. Cracks appeared in this facade when Jay-Z wrapped his arm around Dean for a picture and the wincing response the gesture received led Jay-Z to believe that his friend may have seriously injured himself. Finally, the group gathered outside, where Keys presented Dean with her gift to him — a new Aston Martin — which husband and wife promptly drove to the hospital.
Though he can be overwhelmingly humble, when I asked him how he thinks the hip-hop community became so interested in art, he responds, evenly and deliberately — just stating the facts — “I don’t take credit for a lot of things, but I will take credit for that.”
DEAN WAS BORN in the Bronx in 1978 and was drawn to art from an early age because of the borough’s thriving cultural scene in the 1980s, where he was fascinated by the graffiti art on subway cars and in apartment hallways. He began buying art for the same reason a lot of people do: status, an image to project to the world. This worked better with some people than others. “I got laughed at for collecting” at first by some friends, he tells me, who couldn’t believe he was spending all his money on paintings, but it impressed the record executive Clive Davis, a collector himself, who went to Dean’s house and saw that he was different from other musicians and producers with whom he did business. What began as a tool to use in renegotiating his music industry contracts soon turned into a compulsion, then a passion and, by the time he married Keys in 2010, a lifestyle. Over the past 20 years, he and his wife have built one of the great American collections of contemporary art, and he has quietly become one of the art world’s most important power brokers, a singular advocate for artists in an industry that often exploits creativity for the sake of the bottom line.
As he began collecting more seriously, he and Keys refocused their purchases on living artists, especially African-American artists — people like Nina Chanel Abney, Arthur Jafa and Deana Lawson — who are the primary focus of what he now calls the Dean Collection, and whose careers he learned he could help as a high-profile client of various galleries. One of his tactics, he tells me, is walking into a gallery to ask questions about one of their younger artists — often an artist of color — who maybe hasn’t had a show in a while, and if the gallery seems unenthusiastic and tries to sell him work by a different artist, he keeps pushing for the original artist he came to see, who often winds up getting a solo show as a result of his inquiries because he’s shown the artist has market value. This might seem like a small gesture — a collector advocating for an undervalued artist — but commercial galleries are, above all, the front line in an industry obsessed with profit, and the importance of this kind of influence, which puts the artist above the business, from a collector (often the greediest of all players in this comedy of manners) can’t be overstated. His goal has been nothing less than to “change the climate” of the art world, to shift the color of the artists on the walls of galleries and museums, which for most of history have been reserved for white men. “Because who else is going to do it?” he says. “Everybody goes into a gallery and sees what they can get for cheap and how to take advantage of an artist. I choose to do it the other way.”
In the last few years, more and more artists of color have started to receive major exhibitions, with increasing regularity. This has been a positive development, but Dean also noticed an alarming trend of stories in the press speculating on black artists as the newest stars of the art market — or, read another way, as a kind of shallow currency that can reinforce the art market’s overarching greed: “I kept seeing write-ups saying this is what to buy, this is what you should do and all these business publications saying this is what you need to invest your money in, whether you like it or not.” Visiting a 2015 retrospective of Kehinde Wiley at the Brooklyn Museum, where Dean is a member of the board, he looked at the names on the wall labels of who had lent works to the show and found no black collectors. And yet the media continued to anoint black artists as the future of the art world. “If they’re saying we’re the culture, how are we gonna be the culture if we don’t own nothing from the culture?” he asks. After the show, he made a point of buying the largest Kehinde Wiley painting he could get his hands on, the one that now hangs in his house.
The relative absence of major works by black artists in black collections proved the importance of having the hip-hop community become serious connoisseurs of contemporary art, and for years now, Dean has acted as an informal adviser in this endeavor. One of the people he has helped over the years (and who has since become a major collector himself) is Sean “Diddy” Combs, the music mogul with whom Dean has a longstanding relationship. He recalled going one year with Combs to Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the world’s biggest art fairs, where works are known to sell for seven figures within minutes of opening. A gallery was trying to sell Combs a substandard Picasso, “some lithograph,” Dean says, in a tone of genuine disgust. “And I just said, ‘You’re not buying that Picasso. It’s not happening.’” And Combs listened. “I told him, ‘That’s a bathroom piece, bro,’” by which he meant a less than desirable artwork you buy to hang over the toilet. “And the gallery was so mad at me,” he continues. “But it’s like, if you’re gonna sell him a Picasso, sell him a [expletive] Picasso! Don’t play around and misguide his purchase.”
More recently, Dean helped facilitate Combs’s purchase of Kerry James Marshall’s 1997 painting “Past Times,” which shows a black family having a picnic in a scene that recalls Seurat. Dean spoke to Jack Shainman, Marshall’s dealer, about the history of the painting, and then took Combs to Sotheby’s to view it. Combs ended up buying the work for .1 million, the most money ever paid for a living black artist. “I thought it was important that that particular piece went to an owner of color,” Dean tells me. “It was time for us to step up to the plate and let the world know that we do own a piece of this market as well.”
TO UNDERSTAND Dean’s true impact on the contemporary art world, one must first grasp just how unethical and ridiculous the art world can be. The best summation of this I’ve ever seen came from an email chain that was forwarded to me that was between a group of prominent artists, some of whose works regularly sell for seven figures. One of them was trying to sell a work he owned by another prominent artist in order to pay for an expensive surgery, but he didn’t want it to go to a particular collector who was known for selling works at auction for massive profits. “The auction thing is grotesque,” one of the artists remarked in the email. “But most people just think it’s fabulous. The art world is sick ... Now it’s been taken over by these Kool-Aid drinking greedy ugly immoral hedge-fund auction-house zombies and everybody is just so titillated as they follow the creeps off the cliff.”
Auction houses are largely unregulated dens of inequity, where the identities of buyers — many of whom are actual white-collar criminals — is a closely guarded secret, the prices of works are marked up mostly for reasons of theatrics and artists receive no percentage of the sales, no matter that they created the works now making everyone in the room rich. (The law is different in the United Kingdom, where artists often receive a small cut of resales, but not in America, despite ongoing efforts among artists and various members of Congress; the California Resale Royalty Act, which ensured that in certain cases a seller had to pay artists 5 percent of the resale price, was effectively nullified last year, when a federal court ruled that the Copyright Act took precedence over the state law.) These auctions are in turn covered breathlessly by the press, which celebrates each record as some testament to the strength of our global artistic culture and not just an elaborate ceremony of people getting ripped off. Imagine a developer who buys shoddy houses at foreclosure sales, repaints them and flips them for multiple times as much money, frequently to foreign buyers who will never even see the properties they purchased, and you get some idea of how this business functions. The difference is that the profit margins at art auctions are much higher and exist for far more arbitrary reasons: Auction houses merely capitalize on trends in the market and in most cases aren’t investing in rehabbing paintings in the way a developer might with a house in order to increase its value.
Dean, who has never sold a work in his collection (he’s only traded), is likely the first collector to argue openly on behalf of resale royalties for artists. Part of this comes from his background in music: He’s able to buy so much art — about 70 pieces in the last year alone — partly because he still gets royalty checks 20 years after producing DMX’s “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.” (His other major hits include Beyoncé’s “Check on It” from 2005, Jay-Z’s “On to the Next One” from 2009 and T.I.’s “Bring Em Out” from 2004.) Artists in every other industry continue to collect money on what they create if it sells, except for visual artists, who simply watch as collectors flip their works to increase their own wealth. Even if American law doesn’t change — and there’s little hope that it will — “I think the answer is: Doing good for the artists should be a lifestyle,” Dean says. “It should be the thing to do. Not a charity. People feel like when they’re doing things for artists, it’s like a charity. The artists don’t need no charity from you! The artists just need respect. You should do it just because.”
At a Sotheby’s auction last September, he gave a speech about the importance of giving artists royalties. This was enough to convince one collector, Joel Straus, who sold a Kerry James Marshall artwork (a study, in fact, for the painting purchased by Combs) for .8 million, to announce that he would give Marshall a percentage. This wouldn’t have been news if it weren’t for the fact that it was presumably the first time a living artist had received a cut from a Sotheby’s sale at its American headquarters. Dean has proposed sidestepping the law entirely and instead introducing an option for collectors selling a work through an auction house or gallery to simply check a box — yes or no (he’s been referring to it unofficially as “the Dean Choice”) — to indicate whether they’d like to give a percentage of the sale to the artist. He suggests that 3 to 5 percent is a fair commission.
Shainman, Marshall’s dealer, tells me this is an uphill battle. Auction houses aren’t exactly known for doing things because they are morally right. (Neither are dealers, for that matter. Since the ’90s, Shainman has been one of the only American dealers to encourage collectors to resell works through his gallery instead of the auction houses, in part so that he can give the artist a percentage of his commission.) For Dean, though, ever the optimist, “we’re just one sentence of disagreement off.”
“If you’re really a patron,” he continues, “and really a collector, you’re gonna say yes. And I feel that in the first year we introduce this option, 30 percent are gonna say yes. And then the year after that it will be 60 percent, and then it will just keep going up from there, and then we won’t even need a rule. It will just be the thing to do. People are gonna want to check yes because the artists will know if they don’t — if they didn’t do the right thing.”
IF DEAN’S relationship to art is thoughtful, knowledgeable, careful and considerate, then his ideological opposite is Art Basel Miami Beach, which is held annually at the Miami Beach Convention Center and in satellite events across the city. I am not a spiritual person, but if the river Styx were so shallow that Charon had to drag by hand his boat carrying the departed souls into the underworld, one might have an idea of what it is like to walk up and down the length of Collins Avenue during these few December days. A mix of unapologetic corporate branding and a kind of neoliberal revenge fantasy in which no display of hollow wealth or drunken immaturity is too aggressive to be rendered off limits, this is an event during which I received emails informing me that, at a pop-up hosted by “Montauk hot spot the Surf Lodge,” “Brandon Boyd of Incubus has installed his personal, free-form, ambiguous kind of visual style that focuses on magic, serendipity, curiosity and mystery.” At the fair itself, I watched as a couple took a series of selfies in front of a Keith Haring painting, as if in flagrant disregard to the overwhelming sensation I was experiencing at the time that death is inescapable.
It was against this backdrop in Miami Beach that Dean had organized the seventh installment of the No Commission art fair, an event he began in 2015, in which 100 percent of the profits from the artworks sold goes to the artists who made them. (Typically at art fairs and in gallery exhibitions, artists get 50 percent from the sale of a work.) This alone was a remarkable feat of kindness, made all the more significant during a week that seemed to distill contemporary greed into some kind of primordial vision of the concept itself.
No Commission originated as Dean’s class project in the Owner/President Management program at Harvard Business School, where he earned a degree in 2017. The idea was to make something that would not only benefit artists but also be accessible to novice collectors for whom art fairs, not to mention galleries, are often cold and unwelcoming places. (There was, however, still a brand sponsor, as there is for everything in Miami: Bacardí.)
Within the first minutes of opening, the shoe designer Christian Louboutin, hidden beneath a baseball cap, had bought three works. Dean posed for photos with some fans and then took a moment to admire a photograph by Jamel Shabazz, known for his street photography from the 1980s of people in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and the image of Dean looking at this picture seemed to demonstrate just how far he had traveled from the Bronx of his youth. He told me he was excited to see that, at the main fair, many galleries who are not known for working with artists of color had brought works to sell by black artists. The week had the same boozy self-indulgence, the same cheek-kissing emptiness of years’ past, but it also felt like something was changing, hopefully for the better.
As he looked at the picture, I could see that there was writing on the back of his shirt. It said: “By the artist for the artist with the people.”B:
【萧】【隐】【一】【怔】，【道】：“【何】【事】?” 【何】【心】【隐】【道】：“【能】【否】【让】【小】【妹】【进】【来】【说】【话】？” 【萧】【隐】【起】【身】，【拉】【起】【帐】【门】，【将】【何】【心】【隐】【请】【了】【进】【来】。 【二】【人】【盘】【腿】【坐】【下】，【萧】【隐】【道】：“【到】【底】【何】【事】？【如】【此】【神】【秘】？” 【何】【心】【隐】【略】【带】【一】【丝】【郑】【重】【道】：“【如】【今】【已】【是】【深】【更】，【大】【家】【大】【多】【已】【经】【歇】【息】。【但】【是】，【小】【妹】【想】【邀】【请】【师】【兄】【一】【起】【去】【一】【个】【地】【方】。” “【什】【么】【地】【方】？”
【书】【桌】【前】，【在】【莹】【草】【灯】【绿】【油】【油】【的】【灯】【光】【照】【耀】【下】，【是】【丘】【娜】【低】【头】【忙】【碌】【的】【身】【影】。 【在】【她】【脚】【边】【放】【着】【一】【口】【锅】，【此】【时】【锅】【里】【正】【冒】【着】【热】【气】，【书】【桌】【的】【一】【角】【因】【为】【沾】【到】【太】【多】【水】【蒸】【气】，【表】【面】【已】【经】【结】【了】【一】【层】【薄】【薄】【的】【冰】【霜】。 【食】【物】【在】【沸】【腾】【的】【锅】【里】【上】【下】【翻】【腾】【着】，【不】【止】【有】【根】【茎】【在】【里】【面】【起】【起】【伏】【伏】，【也】【有】【不】【少】【是】【丘】【娜】【这】【样】【的】【人】【才】【能】【独】【享】【的】【食】【物】。 【现】【在】【咸】【阳】【的】【平】【民】福彩3d彩吧图库第一版【过】【了】【两】【个】【小】【时】【后】，【所】【有】【的】【有】【时】【间】【的】【明】【星】，【名】【人】，【都】【到】【达】【杜】【园】。 【而】【由】【于】【这】【次】【晚】【会】【的】【特】【殊】【性】，【所】【以】【宫】【家】【也】【是】【让】【海】【城】【的】【五】【大】【娱】【乐】【媒】【体】【的】【代】【表】【人】【进】【入】【到】【了】【场】【所】【里】。 “【欢】【迎】【各】【位】【来】【到】【我】【们】【宫】【家】【的】【晚】【宴】【现】【场】，【很】【高】【兴】【各】【位】【可】【以】【来】【捧】【场】，【在】【这】【里】，【我】【先】【谢】【谢】【在】【座】【的】【各】【位】【了】。” 【宫】【家】【明】【穿】【着】【一】【套】【自】【己】【最】【喜】【欢】【的】【深】【蓝】【色】【西】【装】，【拿】
【墨】【亦】【宸】【笑】【着】【将】【她】【拉】【上】【了】【车】，“【好】【了】，【别】【不】【开】【心】【了】，【我】【得】【到】【消】【息】，【枯】【木】【谷】【后】【面】【出】【现】【了】【一】【个】【神】【秘】【的】【海】【市】【蜃】【楼】，【每】【天】【夜】【里】【都】【会】【有】【女】【人】【唱】【歌】【的】【声】【音】【传】【出】【来】，【这】【就】【作】【为】【我】【们】【探】【险】【的】【第】【一】【站】，【如】【何】？” 【正】【好】【开】【车】，【一】【个】【人】【影】【突】【然】【从】【车】【窗】【跳】【了】【进】【来】，【那】【雌】【雄】【莫】【辨】【的】【五】【官】【带】【着】【邪】【气】，【眉】【眼】【微】【微】【上】【挑】，“【你】【们】【这】【是】【刚】【领】【了】【证】？” “【你】
【让】【人】【意】【想】【不】【到】【的】【事】【情】【发】【生】【了】，【近】【百】【万】【劳】【工】【回】【西】，【人】【人】【皆】【带】【有】【大】【量】【财】【物】，【财】【务】【动】【人】【心】，【特】【别】【是】【那】【些】【贪】【得】【无】【厌】【的】【贵】【族】，【将】【手】【伸】【向】【这】【些】【用】【命】【换】【来】【的】【财】【物】。 【结】【果】【可】【想】【而】【知】，【一】【股】【巨】【大】【的】【风】【暴】【席】【卷】【西】【边】【各】【国】，【一】【时】【间】，【西】【边】【各】【国】【狼】【烟】【四】【起】，【战】【乱】【不】【断】。 【那】【怕】【是】【深】【得】【民】【心】【的】【阿】【尔】【达】【希】【尔】【也】【焦】【头】【烂】【额】，【毕】【竟】【那】【些】【劳】【工】【中】，【萨】【珊】【王】
【白】【唐】【唇】【角】【泛】【起】【一】【抹】【浅】【浅】【的】【笑】【意】，【望】【着】【人】：“【盛】【先】【生】，【害】【怕】【吗】？” 【盛】【祁】【望】【着】【人】，【唇】【角】【泛】【起】【一】【抹】【浅】【浅】【的】【的】【笑】【意】，【用】【力】【将】【人】【抱】【紧】。 “【我】【觉】【得】【你】【可】【能】【一】【直】【对】【我】【有】【什】【么】【误】【解】。”【他】【的】【声】【音】【轻】【轻】【的】，【却】【带】【着】【一】【抹】【浅】【浅】【的】【温】【柔】，【听】【起】【来】【只】【让】【她】【觉】【得】【心】【里】【说】【不】【出】【暖】。 “【什】【么】【误】【解】?【我】【的】【盛】【先】【生】【不】【是】【弱】【不】【禁】【风】【吗】？【不】【是】【需】【要】【保】【护】