IT’S NO SURPRISE Q-Tip is a serious record collector, given his vocation. When Gail King visited the renowned member of A Tribe Called Quest at his New Jersey home for a CBS This Morning segment, he told her he had about 9,000 records. Footage from the segment indicated Q-Tip has an interest in art, too.

King talked to Q-Tip in 2016, in advance of the release of “We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service,” the pioneering hip-hop group’s final album after an 18-year hiatus.

At the beginning of the video, the two descend a set of stairs into Q-Tip’s basement to explore his library of albums and on the way down they pass a wall sculpture by Chicago artist Hebru Brantley, an untitled work from 2013 installed on the landing. There’s no mention of the work in the video. They breeze right by it. But to anyone familiar with Brantley’s practice, which centers around a comic book-style character called Flyboy, it’s instantly recognizable.

Turns out, the Brantley work is not a one off. It’s part of a collection that also includes works by Nina Chanel Abney, William Villalongo, Fab 5 Freddy, and Richard Prince, whose untitled 2015 work is featured on the cover of the “We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” album.

Q-Tip’s holdings are going on view later this week at Bonhams New York. The auction house says the exhibition marks the first time the collection has been displayed publicly in its entirety. Opening Sept. 20, “Q-Tip: The Collection” features 13 works by 10 artists. The non-selling exhibition is free and open to the public.

In a statement about the exhibition, Q-Tip said: “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to showcase and recognize some of the most talented artists that have inspired me personally and professionally. This would not have been possible were it not for Bonhams’ generosity and commitment in sharing my collection to the public. My hope is that this exhibition will encourage visitors to learn something new, be inspired, and discover the brilliance of some of these incredible emerging artists.”

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to showcase and recognize some of the most talented artists that have inspired me personally and professionally… My hope is that this exhibition will encourage visitors to learn something new, be inspired, and discover the brilliance of some of these incredible emerging artists.” — Q-Tip

HEBRU BRANTLEY, Untitled,” 2013 (fiberglass, resin and acrylic, 20 x 15 x 11 inches / 50.8 x 38.1 x 27.9 cm). | Collection of Kamaal Fareed, Courtesy Bonhams


HASSAN HAJJAJ (Moroccan, born 1961), “Nikee Rider,” 2007/1428 (metallic Lambda on dibond, in the artist’s frame with plastic Lego blocks, 33 15/16 x 24 5/16 inches / 86.2 x 61.8 cm.). | Collection of Kamaal Fareed, Courtesy Bonhams


IN ADDITION to his affiliation with A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip is a record producer, singer, actor, DJ, and solo artist. He has also been working with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts over the past few years, initially as artistic director of Hip Hop Culture and, more recently, in the role of artistic director and advisor-at-large of the Washington, D.C., institution’s Hip Hop Council.

Q-Tip’s many titles also include art collector. He curated his collection himself, forgoing help from an advisor and often acquiring works directly from artists. One of the works on view at Bonhams, “Nikee Rider” (2007/1428) by Hassan Hajjaj, was a gift from The Dean Collection, which is owned by Swizz Beatz (aka Kasseem Dean) and Alicia Keys, Q-Tip’s music industry peers who in recent years have become intensely focused art collecting and creating opportunities for artists.

I asked Bonhams how the exhibition with Q-Tip came about and a spokesperson said: “Q-Tip is a client of Bonhams and this exhibition has been in the works for some time.” The extended planning period was a result of some works being on loan for exhibitions, she added.

One of those shows was “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush,” The artist’s first-ever solo museum exhibition opened at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, N.C., in February 2017. The exhibition traveled to the Chicago Cultural Center, Los Angeles where it was co-presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the California African American Museum, and New York, where it was on view at the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College, State University of New York, through Aug. 4, 2019.

Spanning the first 10 years of Abney’s career, the touring survey of about 30 paintings, watercolors and collages, included “Untitled (FUCK T*E *OP)” (2014) by Abney. Writing about the exhibition for Hyperallergic, Rachel Heidenry described the painting. She said:

    “Abney paints a dense composition filled with geometric shapes and truncated text. Six black faces in profile emerge on the canvas, some with a teardrop falling from their eyes, others with a black X painted across their cheeks. The painting is arresting, absorbing you into its composition, just as one might get lost in a news cycle or Twitter feed. Conveying a mood of protest in a manner that balances accessibility and urgency, the work requires the viewer to consider the symbolism of each number, color, pattern, and shape. It is a new way of thinking about how the intersection of representation and abstraction can be translated into sociopolitical critique in the context of the digital age.”

The exhibition label for “Untitled (FUCK T*E *OP)” cites its ownership: “Collection of Kamaal Fareed.” Fareed is also known at Q-Tip. After touring the nation’s museums, “Untitled (FUCK T*E *OP)” will be showcased at Bonhams. CT


“Q-Tip: The Collection” is on view at Bonhams New York, Sept. 20-Oct. 4, 2019


TOP IMAGE: NINA CHANEL ABNEY (American, born 1982), “Untitled (FUCK T*E *OP),” 2014 (acrylic on canvas, 72 x 108 inches / 182.9 x 274.3 cm). | Collection of Kamaal Fareed, Courtesy Bonhams


FIND MORE about Nina Chanel Abney, Fred Braithwaite, Torey Thornton, William Villalongo on their websites


RICHARD PRINCE (American, born 1949), “Untitled,” 2015 (ink, collage and acrylic on canvas, 53 7/8 x 46 inches / 136.8 x 116.8 cm). | Collection of Kamaal Fareed, Courtesy Bonhams


TOREY THORNTON (American, born 1990), “What If This Was In The Coca Cola Factory, Atlanta, An Hour And A Half From My Home Town,” 2014 (acrylic and spray paint on slatted wood panel, 36 x 30 inches / 91.4 x 76.2 cm). | Collection of Kamaal Fareed, Courtesy Bonhams


WILLIAM VILLALONGO (American, born, 1975), “Free, Black and All American No. 3,” 2017 (acrylic, paper collage and cut velour paper, 40 x 39 7/16 inches / 101.6 x 100.2 cm). | CCollection of Kamaal Fareed, ourtesy Bonhams


“Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush” documents the artist’s 10-year survey organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The fully illustrated catalog includes written contributions by Marshall N. Price, Richard J. Powell, Natalie Y. Moore, Sarah Schroth, and a conversation with Abney conducted by Jamillah James. In 2016, Hebru Brantley published “And We’ll Drift Away Hebru 93 til.”


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