The Akron Art Museum
has been very fortunate to be selected as the recipient of the Ohio gift of The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States. The Vogels
dedicated their lives to collecting works by more than 170 artists. The collection is on view from June 18th through October 16th, 2011.
The remarkable story of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel has become the stuff of lore. He a postal clerk, she a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, who decided shortly after they married in 1962, to live on Dorothy's salary and to devote Herb's to purchasing art. Together they purchased thousands of artworks, cramming their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment floor to ceiling with art.
Though the couples initial exposure to many artists was through gallery shows, they rarely purchased art from dealers. Instead, when they became interested in an artists work, they visited the artist studio and bought directly from him. They typically only purchased objects they could take with them on the spot.
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. When the Vogels began collecting in the early 1960s, their focus on drawing was an unusual one, suggesting another aspect of their foresight. Many drawings in the collection represent an artists initial form of an idea and others act as plans to be followed by a collaborator in the making of a work of art.
By 1992, the Vogels were no longer able to house their collection. They decided to gift most of it to the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. They chose it because each had worked for government agencies and they wanted their art to go to a free public institution. The sheer size of the gift, which included 2,500 drawings, paintings, objects, prints and photographs by 177 artists, led to the development of a program in which the National Gallery would distribute 50 works from the collection to one institution in each of the fifty states.
Many of the works they acquired appreciated so significantly over the years that their collection today is worth millions of dollars. Still, the Vogels never sold a single piece. The Vogels generous decision to disseminate their collection throughout the country is an important model of the power of philanthropy, especially given their modest means.
Akrons Vogel collection includes paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by 26 artists and will be on view June 18 through October 16, 2011. Many, including Nam June Paik, Richard Tuttle, Lynda Benglis and Edda Renouf, have achieved international acclaim since the Vogels began collecting their work. The intimate scale of many of the artworks invites close looking. Twelve of Richard Tuttles subtle but poetic and lyrical watercolor paintings on sheets of notebook paper will be among the many captivating works on view.
While it is impossible to neatly categorize the interests of 26 artists working over a nearly 40-year period, two main approaches are evident: minimalist or concept-based art and expressionistic or figurative work. The intimate scale of many of the artworks invites close looking.