Herb & Dorothy: You don’t have to be a Rockefeller to collect art

Produced and directed by Megumi Sasaki

Herb and Dorothy Vogel built a large contemporary art collection on a financial shoestring, by Herb devoting all of his postal clerk’s salary to art acquisition, while Dorothy supported the family with her librarian’s income. They lived in a rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment in New York City, with tanks and aquariums of live turtles and fish, and a cat. Art was crammed onto walls and available floor space; small size was a criterion for purchases.

The artist Chuck Close describes the Vogels as “the mascots of the art world.” They are small of stature, and they were always there—at every gallery opening, and frequently visiting artists’ studios. As Herb says, “We were obsessed.”

Herb & Dorothy tells the story of their obsession, from a first purchase in 1962 to the donation of the two-thousand-plus art objects to the National Gallery of Art in Washington more than forty years later. Artists and dealers also speak, and art objects are well-displayed.

Eighty-seven minutes of art and art talk.


Herb & Dorothy: You don’t have to be a Rockefeller to collect art, produced and directed by Megumi Sasaki. DVD. Arthouse Films, 2009.

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