Learn More About Herbert and Dorothy Vogel

Last week, we opened Collectors Humble and Extraordinaire: The Herbert and Dorothy Vogel in Fred J. Donath Gallery. In it, we’re showing 50 works that were once part of the collection of contemporary art aficionados Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a husband and wife duo who spent most of their lives frequenting galleries and artist studios while amassing a collection of over 4,700 objects in the process (by comparison, here at the PAM our permanent collection numbers around 3,500 objects). This isn’t so out of the ordinary until you consider that the Vogels fit all of this art into a one-bedroom New York apartment and purchased all of it on modest incomes. The story then shifts from their impressive collection to the Vogels themselves, two acute observers who display a dedication to collecting that is a rare commodity in the often-cynical world of art.

Here are some resources to help you learn more about these extraordinary collectors.

  • By far, the best document of the Vogels’ collecting life is the 2009 Megumi Sasaki documentary Herb and Dorothy. Sasaki explores how the Vogels see art – how intensely Herb views a painting, for example – and peeks into their personal life. A completely devoted and loving couple, their passion for each other shines through in this film at least as much as their passion for art. The film can be viewed in the Donath Gallery during the run of the Vogel exhibition. You can also view  clips from the film at pbs.org or on YouTube. Herb and Dorothy also streams on Netflix.
  • Visit vogel505o.org to learn about the Vogel 50×50 program instituted by the National Gallery of Art in 2008. The Vogels donated 2,500 works of art to the National Gallery which, in turn, were distributed to a museum in each state. The 50 works in Collectors Humble and Extraordinaire came to Plains Art Museum through this program.
  • In their heyday, Herb and Dorothy weren’t just collecting art – they were influencing artists and institutions through their collecting. This 1975 article from New York Magazine is a record of that influence. Herb and Dorothy are also mentioned in this 1978 New York Magazine article documenting the tensions between New York artists and collectors in the late 70s.
  • Herb and Dorothy Vogel have a Facebook page. It’s not incredibly active, but you can read warm regards from some of their fans and, of course, leave your own.