Living for Art: The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection
If you're rich, it's easy to start a collection. But if you need your paycheck to pay the rent and phone bill, and you want to collect, you've got to depend on instinct. What you feel in your head and heart. Wits and guts. —Herbert Vogel, 1992
I think knowing the artists adds another dimension because you get to really know the work a lot better. You understand it better, and you see things through their eyes. —Dorothy Vogel, 1994
The remarkable story of the Vogels is by now 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, on a small budget but with a grand vision, they collected thousands of pieces over a 30-year span, cramming their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment with cutting-edge treasures. They earned as well the admiration of artists, who were aware of the Vogels' limited funds and who appreciated their enthusiastic response to a range of contemporary practices. Artists inscribed many of the artworks to the Vogels, often with great affection.
Unable to continue to house their collection, Dorothy and Herb, through the National Gallery of Art, launched a nationwide gifts program, Fifty Works for Fifty States, distributing 2,500 works of contemporary art throughout the country, with 50 works going to a selected art institution in each of the 50 states.
The Montclair Art Museum was chosen as the recipient in New Jersey. This exhibition features the 50 gifts of contemporary art the Museum recently received as part of the Fifty Works for Fifty States initiative.
The best-known aspects of the Vogel Collection are minimal and conceptual art, but these donations also explore numerous directions of the post-minimalist period, including works of a figurative and expressionist nature. Primarily a collection of drawings, the 2,500 Vogel donations also include paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints by more than 170 contemporary artists, mainly working in the United States. MAM’s collection includes works by Stephen Antonakos (b. 1926), Will Barnet (b. 1911), Robert Barry (b. 1936), Lynda Benglis (b. 1941), Bill Jensen (b. 1945), Edda Renouf (b. 1943), and Richard Tuttle (b. 1941). At MAM, this exhibition will explore the themes of philanthropy and collecting.