Herb & Dorothy: “You Don’t Have to be Rockefeller to Collect Art”

Herb and Dorothy Vogel are your typical middle-class retired couple: a former postal worker and a librarian living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. However, what sets the Vogels apart is the fact that over the span of 45 years, the couple had amassed a voracious collection of over 5,000 works of art, filling every nook and cranny of their shoe-box apartment (a Carl Andre sculpture stored in a chocolate box!). Directed by intrepid documentarian Megumi Sasaki, Herb and Dorothy tells the extraordinary tale of a couple’s passion for art collecting. Described as “daring” and “rigorous”, the collection consists mainly of 20th century Minimalist and Contemporary American art by the likes of Sol LeWitt, Richard Tuttle and Donald Judd.

Herb and Dorothy tracks a critical transition in their art collecting, as they donate their entire collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. This inspiring documentary teaches us that appreciating art is not about exclusive knowledge available to a select few, but the democratic act of seeing rather than merely looking; there is no need to theorize visual instinct. It is a touching account of the unique relationship between two people united in a common passion for art.

Following on from Herb and DorothyHerb and Dorothy 50×50 picks up where the former left off. With the National Gallery unable to take in all 5,000 works of art, the Vogels embark on the 50×50 project whereby 50 pieces from their collection would be donated to museums in each of the fifty US states, and have made plans to traverse the United States to visit each collection. However, Herb’s failing health looming in the background casts a melancholic tone across the entire documentary, rendering it a more heartbreaking look at Herb and Dorothy’s partnership as collectors and life partners.

Herb and Dorothy and Herb and Dorothy 50×50 are testament to the reason why the Vogels have been named alongside the Gettys, the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds as “Great Collectors of Our Time” and a reminder that looking at art should not be intimidating, but as simple as keeping an open mind in order for it to make a connection to the soul.


As a special Art Week edition of their Art Patrons Series. ‘Herb and Dorothy’ will screen from 7.30-9pm, while ‘Herb and Dorothy 50×50’ will screen from 9.30-11pm at the Moving Image Gallery, SAM at 8Q.

Tickets are available for purchase from SISTIC and are priced at $10 per film screening and $16 for both (concession are available). For more information visit the following websites: Singapore Art Museum +65 65899 580 or SISTIC +65 6348 5555.


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Explore latest trends in contemporary culture