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.

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  1. Kathy says:

    Such a touching and humanistic story. I believe their shared passion profoundly affected their own relationship in such a positive way. I love how the perseverance that it showed, and in another way it was a metaphor for how small acts, done repeatedly and over a period of time can build something extraordinary and make a difference in the world.

  2. Helen says:

    I loved this documentary so much that I bought it and have watched it several times. What an amazing couple–in their small apartment with all that art! Their passion for collecting was extraordinary! I love these people, It is also a very entertaining and well done documentary.

  3. I am a conceptual artist, and I too am moved by this incredible couple’s unique passion. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. carla says:

    Inspirador! gracias David

  5. Thanks again for an interesting story about something I hadn’t heard of….this is better than reading the New Yorker (OK…at least as good)….the New Yorker is large and takes a long time to get through and my husband gets mad that I stay up late reading it!

  6. metscan says:

    Oh, I´d like to see the film, just wondering where to search for it..
    I don´t collect anything specific. If I notice myself starting to do it, I stop. Don´t ask me why. I like many things and yet I do not.

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Sculptor, painter, poet. Currently living in Los Angeles and Martha's Vineyard