He was a postman. She was a reference librarian. Together, Herbert and Dorothy Vogel of New York City amassed “one of the world’s great collections of minimal and post-minimal art,” according to Anne Collins Goodyear, co-director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine. A major acquisition of 320 works of art from the Vogel's celebrated collection was announced on Friday by the museum — a transformative gift that will dramatically enhance the museum’s contemporary art holdings.
Comprising works by nearly 70 artists such as Robert Barry, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Julian Schnabel, James Siena, Pat Steir and Richard Tuttle, Dorothy Vogel’s gift to the Museum ranks among the largest contributions of objects from the Vogel Collection since their major gift to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in 1992.
In addition to works by prominent modern and contemporary artists, the gift includes many works with which the Vogels lived personally for many years — and rare examples of paintings by Dorothy and Herb Vogel themselves. The Vogel Collection gift is among the most significant contributions in the Museum’s more than 200-year history.
The gifted collection features the work of iconic artists and will enable the Museum to represent the evolving history of minimal, post-minimal and conceptual art practice. Works on paper compose the majority of the gift, in addition to photography by Richard Long, ceramics by Michael Lucero and sculpture by Merrill Wagner. Encompassing works dating from the mid-20th century to the early-21st century, the gift to Bowdoin will present the full history of the Vogel’s collecting — from Herb Vogel’s early acquisition of paintings by Giuseppe Napoli and Hank Virgona, to work acquired jointly by the pair during the past decade, such as drawings by Richard Tuttle and Lucio Pozzi.
“This donation represents a true highlight in the giving of our collection,” said Dorothy Vogel. “I take pleasure knowing that artworks included here, by leading American artists, have the capacity to inspire many generations of audiences, from students to locals, to a broad range of international visitors.”
Herb and Dorothy Vogel began collecting art in the early 1960s and created one of the world’s most notable collections of minimal, conceptual and post-minimal art.
The Vogels made a major gift from their collection to the National Gallery of Art in 1992. Sixteen years later, they launched The Dorothy and Herbert Collection: Fifty Works to Fifty States, in concert with the National Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Through this undertaking, the Vogels distributed 50 works to one institution in each of the 50 states. Their extraordinary accomplishments as collectors and benefactors have been celebrated in two films by Megumi Sasaki, Herb and Dorothy (2008) and Herb and Dorothy 50 x 50 (2013) as well as in innumerable publications, including articles and interviews.