Arguably no one has done more to nurture and grow Black collectors and support Black artists than Kasseem Dean, knowing professionally as Swizz Beatz. When he’s focusing on building his collection of living artists, the hip-hop star sometimes exercises his sway by directing his gallery inquiries to younger artists of color who haven’t had a show in a while. Often this results in a solo show for the artist. Other times he takes a more entrepreneurial approach: In advocating for artist resale rights, he established the No Commission art fair, a fair curated by Dean in collaboration with Nicola Vassell (who also made this year’s list) that subverts the 50 percent commission model by taking no commission at all.
Dean also frequently plays the role of mentor and he encourages colleagues and friends to collect Black artists. In 2018, Dean famously helped facilitate hip-hop star Sean Combs’ purchase of Kerry James Marshall’s 1997 painting Past Times for $21.1 million, the most money ever paid for a living Black artist.
In 2020, Dean’s influence remains just as strong. For the January edition of ARTnews, the artist served as guest editor of “The Deciders.” The issue profiles art world visionaries such as 21c Museum Hotels, the indigenous collective The New Red Order, and L.A. gallery Commonwealth and Council. Because live events are currently unsafe due to the pandemic, Dean highlights artists in the collection over Instagram, giving them the exposure they deserve.
“The art world, the industry, the market, the movement—however you want to phrase it—is a complex community,” Dean wrote for ARTnews. “All of us are hard at work, shaping what the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years will look like for those in the next generation who dare to be an artist, a curator, a collector, a gallerist, a specialist, a museum director—a visionary.”