An exhibit opening Nov. 28 at the University of Alaska Museum of the North features artwork donated to the museum by a New York couple made famous by the PBS documentary “Herb and Dorothy.”
The installation, “Vogel 50 X 50,” includes works donated by the collection of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, a librarian and postal worker who amassed one of the most important contemporary art collections in the country.
Mareca Guthrie, the museum’s curator of fine arts who also teaches in the University of Alaska Fairbanks art department, said the Vogels collected nearly 5,000 works of art over several decades.
“What makes the Vogel story so compelling,” she said, “is that they were regular people who devoted their lives completely to art. They started by collecting small things from unknown artists in New York on a tight budget.”
The collection consists primarily of minimalist, post-minimalist and conceptual examples of contemporary art. It has been called one of the most important post-1960s art collections in the United States. The Vogels stored their entire collection in their small Manhattan apartment. Although the works were featured in several exhibitions over the years, the couple astounded the art world when they donated everything to the National Gallery of Art.
As government workers themselves, the Vogels said they liked the idea of sharing their prized pieces with the American people.
“The Vogels turned a passion for collecting local artists into a collection worth hundreds of millions,” Guthrie said. “And then they donated to 50 different museums across the nation so that the art could be enjoyed for generations to come.”
The UA Museum of the North received a portion of the 2,500 contemporary artworks that were distributed across the country as part of “The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States.” Guthrie said all 50 works will be included in the exhibit.
“Vogel 50 x 50” will be on view through the summer of 2015 in the museum’s Collections Gallery. Starting Dec. 13, the museum also plans a free showing of the film “Herb and Dorothy” by filmmaker Megumi Sasaki in the auditorium the second Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m. Artists interviewed in the film include Richard Tuttle, who has several pieces in the UAMN collection.