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Fifty Works for Fifty States: The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection

Friday, January 22, 2010Sunday, May 9, 2010

Installation view of Fifty Works for Fifty States: The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection. Image courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Digital Assets Collection and Archives, Buffalo, New York.

Clifton Hall Link

The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel story is not your typical love story. Civil servants by day and voracious collectors by night and weekend, Dorothy and Herbert Vogel built a world-class collection through modest means. Herbert Vogel (born 1922), who spent most of his working life as a postman, and Dorothy Vogel (born 1935), who was a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, gave up vacations and creature comforts by devoting the entirety of Herbert’s salary to collecting and acquiring works by contemporary artists. While their wallets were not well endowed, they made up for it in a passion for each other and for art. Committed to discovering new work by up and coming artists, the Vogels have amassed a collection since their marriage in 1962 that now includes more than 4,000 objects by some of the most remarkable and renowned artists of our time.

In 1992, the Vogels formed a partnership with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., placing in their custody more than 1,100 works of art as gifts or promised gifts. As they continued to acquire works of art and the Vogels’ collection grew, it became unreasonable to gift the collection in its entirety to any singular institution, leading to the development of the Fifty Works for Fifty States project. This prescient endeavor, which has received essential support from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, allowed the Vogels to place 2,500 works of art, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs by 177 artists, in the collections of institutions throughout the United States. Using a select statute of personal criteria, the Vogels have selected venues that they have already built relationships with through exhibitions and affiliations, or, as in the case of the Albright-Knox, in cities that were of significance to them. (Dorothy Vogel was born in Elmira, New York and attended college at the University at Buffalo.) Through steadfast vision, the Vogels’ munificence brings works by contemporary artists to smaller arts organizations that otherwise may not have had the means to acquire these artists, and builds a legacy that will withstand generations.

The Albright-Knox is honored to become a chapter in the story of the Vogels, whose generosity brings to the collection a bevy of artists that are either entering the collection for the first time or will enhance existing holdings. This magnanimous gift includes works by Richard Artschwager, Robert Barry, Lynda Benglis, Charles Clough, Koki Doktori, R. M. Fischer, Richard Francisco, Don Hazlitt, Gene Highstein, Bill Jensen, Tobi Kahn, Steve Keister, Alain Kirlli, Mark Kostabi, Wendy Lehman, Michael Lucero, Joseph Nechvatal, Richard Nonas, Larry Poons, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Judy Rifka, Barbara Schwartz, Darryl Trivieri, and Richard Tuttle.

This exhibition is organized at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery by Associate Curator Holly E. Hughes.