Herb & Dorothy is an incredible film that I would strongly urge all art lovers to see.
It’s available on most movie and download services. It is the amazing story of the Vogels and their unique passion, for art, artists, and collecting. Herb was a postal clerk, and Dorothy, a librarian.They lived entirely on Dorothy’s salary, and used Herb’s to accumulate one of the great contemporary art collections of over two thousand pieces.
In the early 60′s, before minimalist and conceptual art had much of a following, they began buying work by then, unknown artists. They followed two rules. The pieces had to be “affordable” and also fit in their small one bedroom appartment. Their sense of quality, and ability to suss out young artists who were to become world famous, was amazing. Sol LeWitt, Richard Tuttle, Christo, Chuck Close, were only a few.
In 1992, they decide to donate their collection to the National Gallery in Washington. They had no money to live out their old age, so the government, deeply thankful for their gift to the national patrimony, arranged to give them a smallish stipend. What did they do, but start collecting again. They couldn’t stop themselves. What comes through in the film is their utter lack of pretension, and great passion for both art and artists. They were recognized by all these major artists as very serious and discerning collectors, as well as friends, even though they were not buying the big expensive pieces, only the small, lowest price ones.
Their story and quest is heartwarming, and also very instructive and inspiring. If you truly let the world in, and let it take you along the path of your hearts innermost desires, you can sometimes travel to magnificent and unexpected places.
Herb and Dorothy had the collecting impulse to an extent I’ve never seen before. I’m curious how many of you are collectors, and what of. My wife has collected a particular kind of Santa Catalina Island pottery for many years. She is very methodical. I have bought a fair number of paintings, and find that, unconsciously, most of them have an element of water, particularly, ocean, in them.