I see a pair of art-collecting angels

When Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, I said to myself, he was an angel from heaven to establish Apple Inc. and to bring wonderful gadgets to the people of planet earth, because he had dedicated his whole life to this one purpose. He had his setbacks and detours but he was never distracted.

In 2013, through the invitation by a friend associated with the Singapore Film Society, I had the opportunity to learn about the journey of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, who were later known to me as a pair of art-collecting angels. Well, for the same reason I thought of in the case of Steve Jobs.

After watching Herb & Dorothy, the documentary about Mr & Mrs Vogel and produced by Japanese film maker Megumi Sasaki, I was totally touched by and grateful for the Vogels’ initiative and life-long passion for contemporary art collecting.

Herb & Dorothy will be screened at The Arts House, Singapore, at the following timings. Get your tickets online or from The Arts House Box Office.

18th January 2014, 2pm & 7pm

19th January 2014, 2pm

Living solely on Dorothy’s salary as a librarian, the newlyweds in 1962 decided to spend Herb’s income earned from working at the post office on acquiring artworks. And they have never looked back since.

the piece that marked the beginning: Untitled by John Chamberlain, 1962, crushed car metal on wood base

the piece that marked the beginning: Untitled by John Chamberlain, 1962, crushed car metal on wood base

Over 30 years of time, the pair of angels had packed their small apartment in New York City with more than 2,000 pieces of visual artworks, mainly drawings plus a good number of interesting sculptures and installations.

Perhaps angels do away with their magical prowess when they come to live on earth as the Vogels did not transform their art-filled house into an “inflatable space” that would always have some extra storage for that latest addition to the collection.

Hence in 1992, the husband and wife transferred their entire collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. And when they got plenty of room in the house again, what would they do? The answer was clear. When the collection grew to nearly 5,000 pieces of work that no one institution could accommodate them all now, the idea of “50X50” was conceived.

Under the project named The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, an art institution in each of the 50 states in the country would receive 50 pieces of work from the Vogels’ enourmous and rarely-seen collection.

Megumi Sasaki, the Director of Herb & Dorothy, proceeded to film the sequel, Herb & Dorothy 50X50, to capture the process and implementation of the Vogels’ nationwide gift programme, a much celebrated and appreciated act of generosity.

Herb & Dorothy 50X50 will be screened at The Arts House, Singapore, at the following timings. Get your tickets online or from The Arts House Box Office.

18th January 2014, 4.15pm ~ South East Asian Premiere – SOLD OUT!

18th January 2014, 9.15pm

19th January 2014, 4.15pm – SOLD OUT!

Find out more about Dorothy & Herbert and watch the trailer here.

Alas, my heart sank when Dorothy announced personally in the second film that “the collection is over”, following Herb’s passing in 2012 at the age of 89. I am certain that Herb still lives in the hearts of very many people and he has gone back to get things ready for his fellow angel Dorothy’s return.

Thank you Dorothy and Herbert for all your unwavered contribution to the human race and its culture throughout your life, as well as your support and encouragement rendered to many unknown and emerging artists back then.

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