By now, you may have heard of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, the postal worker and librarian who managed mostly through sheer dedication, sacrifice and sincere enthusiasm managed to amass one of the country's most important collections of Contemporary art.
The remarkable story of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel has become the stuff of lore. He a postal clerk, she a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, who decided shortly after they married in 1962, to live on Dorothy's salary and to devote Herb's to purchasing art. Together they purchased thousands of artworks, cramming their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment floor to ceiling with art.
Though the couple’s initial exposure to many artists was through gallery shows, they rarely purchased art from dealers. Instead, when they became interested in an artist’s work, they visited the artist studio and bought directly from him. They typically only purchased objects they could take with them on the spot.
The Vogel Collection has been characterized as unique among collections of contemporary art, both for the character and breadth of the objects and for the individuals who created it. When the Vogels began collecting in the early 1960s, their focus on drawing was an unusual one, suggesting another aspect of their foresight. Many drawings in the collection represent an artist’s initial form of an idea and others act as plans to be followed by a collaborator in the making of a work of art.
Part of the trick behind their collecting was that they rarely had to pay full gallery prices for anything--because they often bought from artist's whose work was being ignored or under appreciated. It's actually hard to know just how little the Vogels had to pay for anything since many artists just won't say. Quite often they were just given things for showing any interest at all.
Another "trick" was that both artists and galleries wanted them to own works, since they never sold them-even as they became so valuable.
Now, a large part of their collection has been distributed to museums across the country through an agreement with The National Gallery which gave one institution in each of the 50 states, 50 works from the collection.
The Herbert & Dorothy Vogel Collection: 50 Works For Ohio
June 18, 2011 - October 16, 2011
The Akron Museum Of Art