After Acquiring 80+ Images by Gordon Parks, Alicia Keys and Kasseem Dean Pose for Portrait Intended as Homage to the Pioneering Photographer

 

THE LATEST EDITION of Cultured Magazine features Alicia Keys-Dean and Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean. The married couple posed for their first-ever cover together for the magazine’s July/August 2018 issue. In the accompanying article by Rebecca Bengal, the increasingly influential art collectors and music industry powerhouses discuss their relationship with each other, their connections with artists, and the Dean Collection, their philanthropic organization and family-owned collection of art.

For several years, Keys and Dean have served as co-chairs of the annual Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Gala. At this year’s celebration on May 22, Dean announced the acquisition of more than 80 photographs by Gordon Parks. The Dean Collection’s landmark acquisition is the largest, privately held cache of photographs by Parks. The selection spans the pioneering photographer’s entire archive, including portraits of prominent civil rights leaders and cultural figures such as Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Langston Hughes, and Muhammad Ali, images of life in Jim Crow-era rural Alabama, fashion shoots, and documentary photographs, along with many lesser known images.

Kasseem Dean announced the acquisition of more than 80 photographs by Gordon Parks. The Dean Collection’s landmark acquisition is the largest, privately held cache of photographs by Parks.

In collaboration with the Parks Foundation, the Dean Collection photographs will be on view Spring 2019 in an exhibition at Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art at Harvard University.

The gala also honored Jamel Shabazz, the street photographer who has been capturing the undeniable style of African Americans in New York City since the 1970s and 80s. He was among the 2018 recipients of the Gordon Parks Foundation Award. The couple joined forces with Shabazz to create a series of photographs for Cultured. The cover portrait and interior images that accompany the article are supposed to be an homage to Parks.

Keys and Dean channel 1970s Black Power icons in the images. A photograph of Kathleen Cleaver and Eldridge Cleaver taken by Parks in 1970 in Algiers, Algeria, inspired the cover portrait. About the decision to recreate the image of the Black Panther leaders, Keys told the magazine: “We were looking at Gordon’s pictures, and Swizz said, ‘I feel like this is the one.’”

A partnership and shared mission is certainly conveyed in the photographs. Together, Dean and Keys are expanding the Dean Collection and its programs, which center around opportunities and agency for artists, particularly up-and-coming artists.

Launched in 2016, the No Commission art fair provides a platform for artists to keep 100 percent of the profits from the art they sell. The fair has been held in New York and Miami. The next one is expected to be in Los Angeles and focus on photography. Inaugurated last month, 20 St(Art)ups offers 20 artists $5,000 each to develop an exhibition in a space of their choosing and keep all of the proceeds from their sales.

Dean told Cultured the first piece of art he purchased was a photograph by Ansel Adams when he was about 18, adding that he gravitates toward photography because it presents the truth.

“As we know, most of what people are seeing on social media is not the truth,” he said. “What you’re seeing in Jamel Shabazz is the truth. What you’re seeing in Gordon Parks is the truth. What you’re seeing in Deana Lawson is the truth. That’s why their work is so spectacular to us. It embraces the truth. It embraces the roots. And there’s beauty in that.” CT

 

TOP IMAGE: Cultured Magazine, July/August 2018 – Alicia Keys and Kasseem Dean styled by Emma Pritchard. Portrait by Jamel Shabazz

 

BOOKSHELF
In the portraits made for Cultured magazine, Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys-Dean are shown reading “A Choice of Weapons,” the autobiography of Gordon Parks. Recent catalogs have been dedicated to special projects and series by Parks, including “Gordon Parks: Segregation Story,” “Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott,” and “Invisible Man.” More comprehensive recent volumes are “Gordon Parks: I Am You: Selected Works 1934-1978” and “Gordon Parks: Collected Works.” “Half Past Autumn” documents Parks’s traveling retrospective from two decades ago. For young readers who are budding photography fans, consider “Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America.”

 

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