Monday, July 23, 2012

Losing Herb, and so much more.

Herb and Dorothy Vogel (Image from the Telegraph)
The death of Herb Vogel, while not hugely unexpected given his 89 years, comes as quite a blow. I have often "jokingly" inquired, where are the art patrons now? Yes, the predictable outburst of an artist who, big surprise, doesn't make a living making art. The Vogels, Herb and Dorothy, weren't typical patrons because they began collecting with a very small purse.  Herb was a retired postal worker with an extraordinary love of art. He lived for art. Truly. It wasn't about the money, or the status of being art savvy enough to buy a Chamberlain or a Chuck Close for peanuts.  There was no hidden agenda, no retirement plan of selling pieces that had become worth millions for a bigger apartment, or for a time share in Boca.  He and his wife stopped traveling in the 70's (yeah, over thirty years ago!), so that they could afford to buy more art. They lived in a small apartment with turtles and cats, and art filled every other spare nook and cranny of it.  I think we should stop to acknowledge this: real art by real artists can be had even with a meager salary. I mean, they watched Christo's cat as payment for a piece. Sometimes they were forced to pay in installments.  It's easy to get bitter at a big fancy gallery when you see something that moves you, and you wish in your head, "if only I could afford that."  Yes, there are trendy, fabulous artists with fabulous price tags alongside their work.  And I'm certainly as guilty as the next artist when I price my work as I deem it worth. But I also know I would be willing to give my work away for next to nothing if I knew it brought someone so much pleasure. That's kind of the secret wish, that the person/s who acquires your work will really enjoy it.  The Vogels gave away most of their collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.  It was an act that speaks volumes about Herb and Dorothy. They gave to the National Gallery what, in away, the National Gallery gave to them: a love and appreciation for art, for everyone to enjoy, for free.  Tonight, I will toast to Herb Vogel, one of a fiery couple who's love for art was endless and limitless.


  1. Great post. I remember seeing Herb and Dorothy at gallery and museum openings in New York. By then most regulars in such places knew who they were, but they nonetheless stood out for what they weren't. They were small -- in the five foot category -- and simply dressed, often in contrast to the dressed to the T's crowd. Most of all they were looking at the art, something that couldn't always be said of those who attended openings. We're unlikely to see their likes again.

  2. There is a good documentary titled "Herb & Dorothy" (2008) available on Netflix instant that I recommend everyone watch if they haven't already.