Fabled art collector Herb Vogel died last week at the age of 89. Since I’m on the road today, I thought I would rerun a post I wrote a couple of years back about Herb and Dorothy. Their passion for art was remarkable and showed that collectible art was not only for the very wealthy.
This is Herb and Dorothy Vogel. Herb’s retired from his job at the post office and Dorothy from a job as a librarian. They live in a small apartment in NYC. The only connection I have with them is that Dorothy is from my hometown of Elmira. That and the fascination I have for the passion that they possess for collecting art.
You see, the Vogels have compiled one of the greatest collections of modern art in the world over the past forty eight years or so.
I’ve written before that art does not have to be the sole province of the wealthy, that art is accessible to most every income level if the person really feels the desire to collect. The Vogels are positive proof of that.
They married in the early 60’s and immediately began their obsession, living on Dorothy’s income as a librarian and using Herb’s paycheck to buy art. They sought out new and what they felt were important artists, meeting them and learning about them as they acquired early, important works from the artists before they were discovered by the greater art world. Many artists became friends and gave them numerous pieces until their small apartment was bulging. Artworks under the bed, artworks on the ceiling, artworks in every nook and cranny– art consumed their home.
By this time, their collection was recognized throughout the art world as one of the largest and most comprehensive collections held by a private collector. In the 90’s, the National Gallery of Art took stewardship of their collection, allowing the Vogel’s collection to live on long after they are gone. It also allowed the Vogel’s the room, as the collection was taken by the National Gallery, to continue collecting with the same passion for the modern art they so loved. It’s said that their collection is probably worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars today but that was never the reason behind their manic collecting. It was about their love of, and connection to, the art. It proves that wealth or income is not the primary factor in collecting.
Only a passion and desire.
The story of Herb and Dorothy Vogel is a great story and was the subject of an award-winning documentary this past year called, of course, Herb and Dorothy. There is also a ton of written articles and broadcast stories out there about the Vogels, so please look them up. You may not like a lot of the work they collect but their passion is worth watching.
Here’s a trailer for the documentary: