Friday, February 4, 2011
Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, subjects of the recent documentary Herb and Dorothy, have managed to comprise one of the greatest American art collections with the modest income of a librarian and a United States Postal Service clerk. What may be even more impressive is that until 1992, the married couple stored the nearly 5,000 works of art in their tiny, one-bedroom apartment in New York City. At that time Washington D.C.'s National Gallery absorbed the collection and even more recently, in 2008, Herb and Dorothy began a program which split up more than half of the mass of work among 50 art institutions across the nation.
Their collection boasted primarily conceptual and minimalist works from the mid-twentieth century and includes artists like Sol leWitt, Dan Graham, and Will Barnet. The two gathered the collection slowly stemming from a sincere and earnest appreciation for modern art and budgeted to buy works which could both accommodate their meager finances, but also be reasonable to physically transport. The hobby quickly became an obsession as Herb and Dorothy hungered more and more to add to their collection.
Most endearing to me about Herb and Dorothy Vogel's contribution to the art world is the fact that they built close relationships with the artists (even negotiating an exchange with Christo and Jeanne-Claude that won them a work of art for cat-sitting!), who acknowledge and appreciate not only the couple's true passion for art, but their impressive understanding and intuition about the work itself. It was truly their genuine love of art that drove the collection, not an expectation of using it as an investment.
Below is a trailer of Herb and Dorothy, along with a few images of pieces from their impressive collection and some photos of the couple themselves.
* images appear courtesy of the following (in order): vogel5050.org, cs.nga.gov.au, 123nonstop.com/biography, www.demeterclarc.com. All works of art are from vogel5050.org and are titled as follows: "Untitled" (1995) by David Salle, "Noiseless Blackboard Eraser" (1974) by Joseph Beuys, and "Turkey Shopping Bag" (1964) by Roy Lichtenstein