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Movie Review: Herb and Dorothy

Alternate Title: Portrait of the Collector as an Artist

Story: I like films about artists and this terrific, fun, heartwarming documentary about two collectors and the artists they met, has it all. You may already know the story about Herb and Dorothy Vogel from 60 Minutes, Charlie Rose or many other articles about them over the years. But trust me, this film is a must whether you think you know them or not or whether you understand minimalist or conceptual art or not.

Herb, now 92, was a postal clerk who worked the midnight to 8 AM shift his whole life. He would sleep a few hours and then start his day in pursuit of art. Dorothy, now 80, was a librarian who caught Herb's passion for art and they started their collecting journey together with their first piece in 1965. Dorothy's librarian salary covered their rent, food and bills. Herb's salary paid for the art they collected. With their modest means, the couple managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history. The Vogels have redefined what collecting means and I salute them.

The film has fabulous file footage of the Vogels visiting SOHO when it was unsafe to wander around that neighborhood. We see them in artists' studios, galleries and of course in their cluttered one bedroom rent controlled apartment where over 5000 collected pieces were kept.

This film teaches us about seeing, about passion, about living a life with no compromises in the pursuit of art. The Vogels did not have children but were exceptional parents who nurtured, admired and supported young artists just as parents would do.

In 1992 the couple pledged more than 2,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Now, having amassed more art than could be exhibited in most museums, they will distribute 2,500 more pieces to institutions across the country. Check out this website for more on this program. http://vogel5050.org/vogel/index.htm

On a personal note, I salute the people who have collected my art over the years. I remember every one of you and appreciate your support. It is still thrilling to visit someone's home and see one of my own works displayed. It never gets old. My only complaint about this film is that the Vogels do not own a Judith Wolfe.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vma2T5luy08

Acting: The film's other asset is the many artists who speak about the Vogels. Talking heads include: Sol LeWitt, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Richard Tuttle, Chuck Close, Robert and Sylvia Mangold, Lynda Benglis, Pat Steir, Lucio Pozzi, Lawrence Weiner

Trivia: The Vogels could not afford the piece they wanted to buy created by Christo and Jeanne-Claude so the artists came up with the idea of a barter. The Vogels took care of their cat, Gladys, while the artists were out in Colorado in the summer of 1972 exhibiting Valley Curtain. http://christojeanneclaude.net/vc.shtml.

Predilection: I love films about art.

Critters: The Vogels loved animals and have had cats throughout their lives. They now have19 turtles, lots of fish, and one cat named Archie Vogel.

Visual Art: A virtual feast for your eyes.

Theater Audience: Fairly crowded with art lovers.

Drift Factor: I was riveted throughout.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: I would give it an award.

Big Screen or Rental: I am not sure that you will find this in theaters widespread so therefore I would recommend a rental.

Length: 90 minutes