The art collector, Herb Vogel, passed away on Sunday, July 22, 2012. He was 89. Over the course of decades, Herb and his wife Dorothy amassed a huge collection of contemporary minimalist art.
They became famous, appearing on Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, interview shows, and frequently in the press. They often attended as many as 25 art events a week, mostly in New York.
Some artists recalled that in their unrecognized early years, Herb and Dorothy were often their only clients.
When the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. inventoried the Vogel Collection they came up with 4,782 pieces. The Vogels donated 1,000 works to the National Gallery. The whole collection was valued from millions to “priceless” and they gave it all away.
Their collection included works by Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude, Chuck Close, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Pat Steir, Robert Mangold and his wife Sylvia Mangold, Robert Barry, Richard Tuttle, Lawrence Weiner, Joseph Kosuth, Will Barnet, and more.
The Vogels’ story wouldn’t be so very remarkable if they were just another pair of fat cat multimillionaires. They weren’t. Dorothy was a librarian and Herb was a postal clerk who dropped out of high school because he hated it. He said he didn’t like anyone telling him what to do.
Living in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City with cats, turtles, fish, and thousands of artworks crammed everywhere, the Vogels did exactly what they wanted to do: collect art, make friends with artists, and enjoy their lives together.
They bought what they liked, limited by three parameters: The work had to fit inside their apartment, it had to be small enough to carry in a subway or a taxi, and it had to be inexpensive.
This documentary is a wonderful journey through the world of contemporary art and into the lives of an extraordinary couple. We can all learn a lot about marching to the beat of a different drummer, or better, learning how to be our own drummer in our own parade. That’s what the Vogels did.