A few weekends ago, I watched a lovely documentary on Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a couple who managed to amass a collection of almost 5,000 pieces of contemporary art on their meager salaries as a postal worker and a reference librarian, respectively. With intense concentration, Herb and Dorothy befriended and collected from conceptual and contemporary artists like Lawrence Weiner, Christo and Jean Claude, Chuck Close and James Siena, with an eye toward understanding and unraveling the artistic process. Deeply enmeshed in the New York art scene, which is known for its exclusivity and pretensions, the Vogels managed to carve a impressive niche doing what they loved, exactly the way they wanted to do it.
One snippet of an interview with Richard Tuttle explaining why he was drawn to the Vogels has stuck with me since watching the film. “One of the things I liked about them was they were very strongly committed to animals. And I can’t tell you why, but I think there is a remarkable relation between art and animals.” Their apartment, though small, is filled to the brim with art and animals, from turtles, to fish to cats weaving in and out of the stacks. I’m not sure I have anything profound to add to that statement, but to me it has something to do with the purity of intention – art for art’s sake, and the seeking to understand something beyond yourself. And now I’ve probably just gummed it all up with unnecessary words. Dang. Just go watch it.