Herbert Vogel, one of the greatest art collectors in history, died this past Sunday, July 22nd, at the age of 89.
Mr. Vogel was only a mailman when he and his wife Dorothy, a librarian, started collecting minimalist and conceptual works in the early 1960s.
According to the Washington Post,
Herb and Dorothy Vogel had three requirements in purchasing art: It had to be inexpensive; it had to be small enough to be carried on the subway or in a taxi; and it had to fit inside their one-bedroom apartment.
By 1992, the couple had amassed nearly 2,500 pieces of art by names like Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, and Mangold, using only their modest salaries. The couple used Dorothy’s income to cover their living expenses and Herb’s income to buy art.
That same year, the Vogels bequeathed nearly their entire collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. More recently in 2008, the Vogels joined forces with the museum in DC and the National Endowment for the Arts to launch “Fifty Works for Fifty States,” which distributes thousands of works from their collection to museums all over the country.
In an interview with The Art Newspaper, the Vogels admitted that they did not think it would be possible for a mailman and librarian to start a museum collection the way they did, because of changes in the market. Now, as Mr. Vogel told the Newspaper, “The whole market is about money,” he said. “Art has become a commodity.”
You can learn more about the couple by watching Herb & Dorothy, a documentary about their life and collection. See the trailer below: