Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The End of an Era: Herb Vogel

Early on. . . Herbert and Dorothy Vogel at the University of Michigan in 1978

Students in the Art of Collecting course this past spring will recall watching a portion of a video "Herb & Dorothy," a 2009 film about Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, a married couple who began collecting in the early 1960s. They focused their attention on contemporary art, particularly conceptual and minimalist art. Think of straight lines, clean aesthetic, and acute color. At the time, AbEx and Pop were regarded much more highly (and thus were demanding higher prices). They attended art openings, met with artists, and became known simply as “Herb and Dorothy."

There are lots of collectors the world over. And, this year 2012, our department's focus on "The Year of the Collector" pays heed to such individuals who so generously share their works with broader audiences. First, and foremost, our own Dorothy (Jacobs) and the late Dr. Donald Jacobs who have shared their collection with us since 2002 (note: we'll have a 10th anniversary show this coming fall!); June Daves McCandless (thank you, Hannah for installing the Spring 2012 exhibition from her collection in our WAB foyer); John and Luanne Milward whose exhibition "A Passionate Pursuit: The Milward Collection" was on view in our Wilson Gallery this past spring; and our upcoming exhibition with collectors Warren and Julie Payne. For them, we are grateful.
Herb and Dorothy, in their home.
Among empassioned collectors, Herb and Dorothy are particularly amazing in their methodology. They lived and collected on their salaries and their pensions as civil servants and public workers. Herb worked nights sorting mail at the post office and Dorothy was a reference librarian in Brooklyn. Their persistence, scholarly approach, and genuine interest in art and artists are admirable, yet their words and deeds were also focused and within one's means, thereby demonstrating (to me) that the collecting of art can be a democratic endeavor.

Thank you for your generosity, Herb and Dorothy. And, Megumi Sasaki and Team Herb & Dorthy, who made the first film about the pair, and through their Kickstarter fund, were able to fund a second project. And, that dream lives on. The follow-up will be released as scheduled this fall. For Herb. Click here.

Herb and Dorothy at "The Gates" in Central Park, 2005

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