Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dorothy & Herbert Vogel, Art Collectors Extroadinare

By Lauren McAloon
Lauren is the summer intern for Arts in Media & City Theater Company. She will be a senior at UD this fall.
I enjoy art, however I think there is a difference between appreciating art and understanding it. Art enthusiasts, Dorothy and Herbert Vogel did both. The couple was married in 1962 and purchased their first work of art together in 1963. As Dorothy worked at the Brooklyn Public Library, Herbert was employed at the Post Office. They spent one salary on their living and the other on their art. The Delaware Art Museum is opening the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: 50 Works for the First State on June 19, 2010. It will be on view until August 29, 2010.

This inspiring couple studied art and art history in school and naturally, became art collectors. Over the years they have collected over 4,000 works! Apparently they house their art in their one bedroom apartment wherever they can. (There’s actually a documentary about them Herb and Dorothy that tells their awesome story!) They teamed up with the National Gallery of Art with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum of Library Services to launch Fifty Works for Fifty States. The Delaware Art Museum received the Vogel Collection and is very honored by the gift. The Collection focuses on contemporary art and it received drawings, paintings, sculptures and collages by 23 artists.

As I walked through the Collection that was expertly introduced and explicated by Margaret Winslow a few pieces of art stood out. There was a piece of cardboard with a large red geometric shape by Judy Rifka. I thought it was awesome that the artist used a piece of cardboard as a canvas. The bright red geometric shape really popped out from the cardboard. The words “abstract expressionism”, “minimalism”, “post minimalism” were used in the explanations of these pieces. Even if I don’t exactly understand what all of these art eras depicted, I know that they were very important.

I am a fan of Andy Warhol and his pop art. Stating that, I thought that the “new imagery” of the 1970s was pretty cool. Most of the artists and pieces that were in that section of the collection used everyday symbols in paintings and left the viewer to interpret the painting. There was one painting that was very odd. I liked it; it looked so interesting, and if you were looking correctly you can see a distorted candle. This artist used a special technique that was very cool looking. I also really liked a piece by Robert Barry. If you took a quick glimpse at the work of art you couldn’t tell what was so special about it. However, if you got closer, you see a hand drawn rectangle and words along side of the lines. Barry rarely used nouns, he let the viewer engage and interpret the words. I thought it was fun to try and think about why he placed the words where he did. A set of words on one line were “quiet”, “private”, “lasting”, “ask”, “toward”, “guess”, “evaluate”, “torment” and more. This work of art may have been my favorite.

I can’t paint, draw or quite frankly even cut a piece of paper in the right direction, but I really appreciate and value art. I think I have that in common with the Vogels. I love that this Collection brings artists to the surface that might have been overlooked in their prime. It’s a great support outlet for Contemporary Art. The Vogels gave thought to all of the collections for each individual institution. I’m sure the Delaware Art Museum knows how lucky they are and is very proud to have the Collection.

Artist, Richard Tuttle, gave the Vogels drawings from his loose-leaf notebook. Watercolors on loose-leaf notebook paper as daily exercises...maybe I should give it a try.

You can check out The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for the First State starting on June 19 at the Delaware Art Museum. There’s also a special event: An artist panel, An Afternoon with the Vogels, on Saturday, 6/19 @ 11a.m.-2p.m., free with paid admission.

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