MOCA hosted a brief viewing of the Herb and Dorothy Vogel 50 x50 collection on Grand Avenue last week and on Friday I had the pleasure of checking it out
After falling in love with the Vogels in their documentary chronicling how a retired postal worker and librarian amassed an incredibly comprehensive collection of Minimal and Conceptual art spanning decades in New York City, I really couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse of the 50 works up close.
The bulk of their collection is housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The 50 x 50 Collection was set up to allow the Vogels to donate 50 pieces of art to each of the 50 states and there is a second documentary in the works that delves into this process.
After seeing the collection on Friday I had so many questions about how they chose their art that I decided to see the original documentary again. I was particularly struck by their relationships with artists like Richard Tuttle. In watching their interaction with him and others it is clear that the Vogels thought like artists and sought to fully immerse themselves into understanding their process; as such their motivations were beyond monetary value and investment. I think this is what endeared the couple to many in the art world. They understood the evolution of an artist’s style and how their works connected to one another in a way that curators spend years trying to understand.
The Vogels never had children, and as I watched their dedication and commitment to artists and the community, I started to understand how they not only managed to collect over 4,000 pieces of art in their tiny one bedroom apartment, but also how they chose to pledge their valuable collection to the National Museum vs opting to sell it. They truly had a love of their collection by cultivating it and watching it grow over the decades, almost as if it were a child. The collection gave back so much more to them via relationships with artists and the NY art community, that when it came time to let the collection go, they were ready to let it leave the nest, confident that it was in the right hands with the National Gallery of Art.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the documenatary Herb and Dorothy I strongly encourage you to spend the time with one of the most delightful and profoundly inspiring couples I’ve ever seen. For more info on the Vogel 50 x 50 Collection, and to find the institution in your state that has been chosen to participate in this initiative please click on the link.