Herb and Dorothy

This time of year, you'll find me quite scattered. I'm finding it hard to put together any meaty posts but sometimes when I'm driving home and listening to the radio, I hear something fantastic that I just have to share. Tonight it was the story of Herb and Dorothy Vogel:
Herbert and Dorothy Vogel are an ordinary couple of modest means who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history. Herb was a postal clerk and Dorothy, a librarian.

"In the early 1960s, when very little attention was paid to Minimalist and Conceptual Art, Herb and Dorothy quietly began purchasing the works of unknown artists. Devoting all of Herb's salary to buy art, and living on Dorothy's paycheck alone, they continued collecting artworks guided by two rules: the piece had to be affordable, and small enough to fit in their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. Within these limitations, they proved themselves curatorial visionaries; most of those they supported and befriended went on to become world-renowned artists. Their circle includes: Sol LeWitt, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Richard Tuttle, Chuck Close, Robert and Sylvia Mangold, Lynda Benglis, Pat Steir, Robert Barry, Lucio Pozzi and Lawrence Weiner.

Thirty years on, the Vogels had managed to accumulate over 4,000 pieces, filling every corner of their living space from the bathroom to the kitchen. Their apartment was near collapse, holding way over its limit - something had to be done.

In 1992, the Vogels made headlines that shocked the art world: their entire collection was moved to the National Gallery of Art, the vast majority of it as an outright gift to the institution. Many of the works they acquired at modest prices appreciated so significantly that their collection became worth several million dollars, yet the Vogels never sold a single piece to breakdown the collection.

The Vogels' discerning taste and magnanimity changed the face of contemporary art collecting. In 2007, James Stourton, the chairman of Sotheby's UK, included the Vogels in his acclaimed book, Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945. Stourton placed Herb and Dorothy among the top art collectors in the world, alongside Getty, Rockefeller and Mellon."
I want to write more about Herb and Dorothy Vogel because their story is so inspiring. But for now, here's the trailer to a documentary about the Vogels by Megumi Sasaki called Herb and Dorothy.

And of course, some links if you want to read ahead:
* Herb and Dorothy Documentary
* Vogel 50/50 (National Gallery of Art)
* Meet the Vogels (The Moment, NYTimes)

1 comment:

Matthew said...

at 0:06... those two women look like giants!