From July 12-Sept. 28, 2013, audiences have the opportunity to view works selected from The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection. In 2010, UNLV was the recipient of 50 contemporary works from the celebrated collectors. The Vogel Collection has been characterized as unique among collections of contemporary art, both for the character and breadth of the objects and for the individuals who created it.
Beginning in 1962, New York postal clerk, Herbert Vogel, and his librarian wife, Dorothy, began collecting contemporary works of art. The couple dedicated all of Herb's salary to purchasing art, and in a few decades had amassed a collection encompassing some 4,000 works. Today, these works form one of the most remarkable collections of contemporary art in America.
Motivated by the desire to share their collection with the public, they couple developed a program to gift 50 works to one institution in each of the 50 states, including UNLV. This program became known as Vogel 50x50. The collection includes the work by such notables as Stephen Antonakos, Neil Jenney, Lynda Benglis, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Bettina Werner and Richard Tuttle.
“The Vogels created one of the great private collections of the late twentieth century, and have done so with modest means. They prove that you do not have to be wealthy to assemble an important collection, or to be able to give generously to art institutions,” says Barrick program director Aurore Giguet. “It’s a honor for us to be able to exhibit these works.”
The award-winning documentary, HERB & DOROTHY, by filmmaker Megumi Sasaki, will be playing in the Barrick to accompany the exhibition. The film tells the extraordinary story of the Vogels.
The Vogels and Their Collection
Herbert Vogel (b. 1922), spent most of his working life as an employee of the United States Postal Service, and Dorothy Vogel (b. 1935), 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.
As the first collectors to buy work by many artists who were then unknown to a wide audience, the Vogels offered encouragement at the start of the careers of several figures who went on to achieve considerable acclaim. Owing to these artists’ continuing close relationship with the collectors, many works of art collected by the Vogels were gifts, marking special occasions — such as the couple's birthdays and wedding anniversary — and often personally inscribed. In this sense the Vogels’ collection is a keen reflection of their friendships with artists.
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. However, when the Vogels began collecting in the early 1960s, their focus on drawing was an unusual one, suggesting another aspect of their prescience. Many drawings in the collection represent an artist’s initial form of an idea, and others act as plans to be followed by a collaborator in the making of a work of art. 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.
“We hope this will be a truly national program, and that it will make the work of the many artists we admire familiar to a wider audience. We also hope our gifts will enable museums throughout the country to represent a significant range of contemporary art,” said Dorothy Vogel on behalf of the couple.
Inspired by the Kress Foundation’s placement of old master paintings throughout the United States in the middle of the last century, the Vogels hope that their project will, as a parallel effort, enhance knowledge of the art of our time.
About the Barrick Museum
The UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum, a public arts unit under the UNLV Department of Art and the College of Fine Arts, strives to provide a welcoming environment in which students, members of the University community, southern Nevada residents and the public in general can study and learn by directly experiencing works of art. Our goal is to enhance the visitor's understanding of art as an enduring human endeavor and to promote visual literacy for all patrons. To this end, the Museum acquires, exhibits, interprets and preserves works of art representative of past and present cultures, and artistic creativity.
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 27,000 students and 2,900 faculty and staff. Founded in 1957, the university offers more than 220 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs. UNLV is located on a 332-acre campus in dynamic Southern Nevada and is classified in the category of Research Universities (high research activity) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.