Spike Lee’s art collection goes on view at the Brooklyn Museum.

A new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, “Spike Lee: Creative Sources” opens on October 7th, showcasing the acclaimed filmmaker’s expansive collection of visual culture. Though it ranges from sports and music memorabilia to political and movie posters, interwoven throughout is Lee’s remarkable art collection. The show draws from Lee’s trove of photography and features choice works by well known 20th-century and contemporary artists, as well as pieces by unknown and lesser-known names.

Perhaps the star of the show—at least in terms of the art—is a massive painting by Kehinde Wiley, Investiture of Bishop Harold as the Duke of Franconia (2005). Lee commissioned this work, which features a Black man wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers jersey with the number 42—Jackie Robinson’s number. True to Wiley’s practice the work resonates with art history (its title nods to an 18th-century Giambattista Tiepolo painting), though the work is an homage to Robinson, and it resonates with Lee’s iconic 1989 film Do The Right Thing, in which the protagonist, Mookie, wears the same jersey. Another notable work hung nearby in a room dedicated to Lee’s love of sports, is a Jean-Michel Basquiat drawing of baseball player Satchel Paige.

Various other works on view also come from major artists and have deep ties to Black history and culture. These include: a 2022 collage by Deborah Roberts that depicts Trayvon Martin and was commissioned for the cover of New York magazine to mark 10 years since Martin’s killing; a portrait of Toni Morrison by Tim Okamura that was commissioned by Time magazine in 2020 for a reimagining of its 1993 cover when Morrison became the first Black woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature; a drawing of Frederick Douglass by Charles White; and a 1960 canvas by Norman Lewis, titled America the Beautiful, which portrays a night raid by the Ku Klux Klan.

Photography holds a major place in Lee’s collection, so much so that the exhibition has a section dedicated to his passion for the medium. Featured works come from major photographers including Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, James Van Der Zee, and LaToya Ruby Frazier, among others. In a room dedicated to personal effects, there’s also a photograph by Carrie Mae Weems of Lee and his wife Tonya, with the inscription “From Carrie to Tonya and Spike with Love.”

Other artists whose works from Lee’s collection are on view in the show include Patrick Martinez, Jacob Lawrence, Radcliffe Bailey, Augusta Savage, Elizabeth Catlett, Michael Ray Charles, Terry Adkins, and LeRoy Neiman, among others.

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