Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

That you don’t have to be rich to acquire an impressive art collection is something that the American collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel have taught us over the last years.

As Dorothy Vogel explains in a recently published article by the Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Most people want to spend their money on cars and vacations and food. We didn’t. We were very careful. We lived within our means. We never went into debt. I take the bus. My idea of a vacation is a good book and a box of candy."

Herbert Vogel, who passed away last year at the age of 89, was a postal clerk and Dorothy a librarian, who is now retired. For the couple, collecting contemporary art was more than a passion. They assembled over 2,000 works from 1960 to 1992, which they stored in their tiny New York apartment. One of their salaries was used for buying art, the other for daily expenses; and through personal ties to artists, which included looking after the cat of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, they benefited from friend-discounts.

In 1992, the Vogels decided to donate their collection to the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC - the place that initially inspired them to start collecting during their honeymoon. Now that they had new room available, they started from scratch. In 2008, they found themselves at the same point as in 1992: Over 2,000 art works covered nearly every wall of their apartment and were stored in countless boxes. A dimension that even exceeded the capacity of the National Gallery in Washington. Therefore, the institution and the collectors came up with a new project that they termed "50 x 50". The concept behind the project is that one museum in each of the fifty US states receives 50 art works from the Vogel collection.

One of the receiving institutions is the Virginia Museum of Modern Art that will show an extensive part of the Vogel’s collection of American Art from the 1970s and 80s from July 27 through October 20. 

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