Herbert Vogel, 1977
Herbert and Dorothy Vogel have been collecting art all their life. The couple has lived in the same one-bedroom apartment in Upper East Side of Manhattan since 1963. They were not well off by any standard. Dorothy was a librarian. Herb was a postal man. The couple did not have any children, just cats and reptiles. They lived off of Dorothy’s salary, while using Herb’s earnings to purchase and collect art. Over the past several decades, the couple went on their Saturday excursions hunting for worthy artworks that were both “affordable” and can “fit into the apartment.” Over their lifetime, the Vogels collected over 4,750 works of art, an estimated worth of several million dollars.
In 2009, they stopped collecting art. Instead, they partnered up with the National Gallery of Art and proceeded to donate 2,500 of their lifelong collection to 50 art museums across the country, choosing one from each state. The Blanton Museum here at the University of Texas at Austin was chosen as the one of the recipients of Vogels’ collection under the Fifty Works for Fifty States initiative.
The Vogels’ love and passion for art were inspring and mesmerizing when I visited the Blanton the other day with a couple of friends to see the exhibit, “The Human Touch.” For me, the Vogels are the archetypal art collectors we are not necessarily rich, in the material sense, but I have no doubt that the couple has lived a much happier life being closer to beauty and humanity, and simply pursuing what they love together.