The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ summer exhibition includes 50 contemporary works donated by Dorothy and Herbert Vogel. A librarian and a postal clerk respectively, the fabled art collectors amassed nearly 5,000 works while living in a one-bedroom New York apartment. Primarily a collection of drawings, the Vogels’ collection also includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints by more than 170 contemporary artists, mainly working in the United States.
In 2008, in a unique partnership with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Vogels distributed 2,500 works across the country, giving 50 works to one art museum in each of the 50 states. Opening July 27, The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States showcases the 50 works VMFA received. These objects complement VMFA’s Modern & Contemporary collection and are being displayed for the first time.
“As a diverse and rich body of work, the Vogel’s generous gift to Virginia attests to their passion for seeking the challenging, new art of the their time, as well as their commitment to sharing it with a broad public.” VMFA’s Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Sarah Eckhardt, said.
The collection explores numerous directions of the post-minimalist period, including works of a figurative and expressionist nature. More than any particular movement, however, the works in the gift to the VMFA represent the Vogels’ close friendships with individual artists, such as Richard Tuttle, Charles Clough, Pat Steir, Martin Johnson, Jill Levine, David Novros, Lucio Pozzi and Thornton Willis.
The Vogel Collection
Herbert Vogel (1922-2012), spent most of his working life as an employee of the United States Postal Service, and Dorothy Vogel, 78, was a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. Setting their collecting priorities above those of personal comfort, the couple used Dorothy’s salary to cover the expenses of daily life and devoted Herbert’s salary to the acquisition of contemporary art. With the exception of the collection formed by their friend, artist Sol LeWitt, no other known private collection of similar work in Europe or America rivals the range, complexity, and quality of the art the Vogels acquired.
Often the first collectors to buy work by artists who were then unknown to a wide audience, the Vogels offered encouragement at the start of the careers of artists who went on to achieve considerable acclaim. Artists’ use of drawing as a primary medium has expanded during the years in which the Vogel Collection has been formed, and interest in drawings on the part of contemporary collectors has expanded as well. This emphasis on drawings adds to the unique and intimate nature of the Vogel Collection, making their gifts an important educational tool for museums. Another educational focus of the Vogels since 1980 has been their ongoing donation of artist-related records to the Archives of American Art, Washington, DC.
Film: Herb & Dorothy 50×50
Friday, August 9, 6:30 p.m.
A follow-up to the award-winning film Herb & Dorothy, Megumi Sasaki’s Herb & Dorothy 50×50 revisits the remarkable art collecting couple Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, who, with very modest means, accumulated one of the world’s most important contemporary art collections. This new chapter tells the story of the project of distributing the collection in groups of 50 works to an institution in each of America’s 50 states, making it one of the largest philanthropic initiatives in the country’s art history.
The Vogel Collection and the National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art has worked closely with Dorothy and Herbert Vogel since 1991, at which time it acquired a portion of their collection through partial purchase and gift from the Vogels. Since the couple formed their association with the National Gallery, the Vogels’ collection has continued to grow to include some 4,000 works, far more than can appropriately be placed in a single institution.
The Project Book
The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States lists the artists in the individual institutional donations and reproduces four works from each museum’s gift, including at least one by each artist represented. The book was and published by the NEA, in association with the National Gallery of Art, features introductory remarks by Earl A. Powell III, Dana Gioia, chairman of the NEA, and Anne-Imelda M. Radice, director of the IMLS; a note by Dorothy Vogel; and an essay by curator Ruth Fine on the history of the Vogel Collection, the Vogels’ relationship with the National Gallery, and the development of the national gifts program.
The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States
- TITLE: The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States
- DATES: July 27 – October 20, 2013
- NUMBER OF OBJECTS: 50
- CURATORS: Sarah Eckhardt, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
- ADMISSION: Free
- BOOK: The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, supported and published by the NEA, in association with the National Gallery of Art, features introductory remarks by Earl A. Powell III, Dana Gioia, chairman of the NEA, and Anne-Imelda M. Radice, director of the IMLS; a note by Dorothy Vogel; and an essay by curator Ruth Fine on the history of the Vogel Collection, the Vogels’ relationship with the National Gallery, and the development of the national gifts program. $39.50.
- WEBSITE: www.vogel50x50.org serves as an information center and provides the itinerary.
- SPONSORS: The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, a joint initiative of the Trustees of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and the National Gallery of Art, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
VMFA’s permanent collection encompasses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Its collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, English silver, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia are among the finest in the nation. With acclaimed holdings in American, British Sporting, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, and Modern and Contemporary art – and additional strengths in African, Ancient, East Asian, and European – VMFA ranks as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. Programs include educational activities and studio classes for all ages, plus lively after-hours events. VMFA’s Statewide Partnership program includes traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. VMFA is open 365 days a year and general admission is always free. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit www.vmfa.museum.