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Herbert Vogel, visionary collector of minimal and conceptual art, has died

July 22, 2012

Christo, Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, Jeanne-Claude, Richard Tuttle, Lawrence Weiner, and Robert Barry at the opening reception of the 1994 exhibition “From Minimal to Conceptual Art: Works from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection” at the National Gallery of Art. Photo by John Tsantes. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Gallery Archives

The National Gallery of Art has just posted news of the death of Herbert Vogel on their Facebook page.  Herbert and Dorothy Vogel are world renown as among the most prescient, adventurous and visionary collectors of  minimal and conceptual art.

Connoisseur and collector of contemporary art Herbert Vogel died from natural causes at Kateri Residence, New York City, on July 22, 2012. He was considered by many to be a visionary and among the earliest collectors who championed minimal and conceptual art in the 1960s. After marrying Dorothy Faye Hoffman in 1962, he inspired her to join his pursuits, using his salary as a U.S. postal clerk to purchase art while living on what she earned as a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. Over five decades they redefined what it meant to be an art collector. Despite their modest income and small apartment, they amassed a world-class collection of more than 5,000 works that have been distributed to museums throughout the nation, with the majority going to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Their story has inspired generations of passionate contemporary art collectors.

Herbert Vogel, 1922-2012.

The Washington Post’s extensive obituary provides some insights into the Vogels and their collecting history:

The Vogels visited studios and became close friends with many artists, including Sol LeWitt,Richard Tuttle and the husband-and-wife duo of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. They were often the first collectors to open their wallets to buy from unknown artists. Over a period of almost 50 years, the Vogels amassed more than 5,000 works of art, including drawings, paintings, sculptures and pieces that defied classification.

“Many millionaire collectors wouldn’t have the nerve to buy the kind of cutting-edge art that the Vogels embraced enthusiastically,” Philadelphia Inquirer art critic Edward J. Sozanski wrote in 1994. The Vogels, Sozanski continued, created “one of the most remarkable American art collections formed in [the 20th] century, one that covers most of the important developments in contemporary art.”

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. Over time, the diminutive couple – neither of them much taller than 5 feet – became recognized in the art world.They haunted the galleries and studios of New York, attending as many as 25 art events a week. They studied art magazines and kept in close touch with dozens of artists.

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