The postal worker who, with his librarian wife, managed to amass a brilliant collection of contemporary art without spending a fortune, died today, according to various news reports. Herbert Vogel was 89. His death was announced by the National Gallery of Art.
Despite early “warning” that their apartment — whose location I had to agree not to disclose — was full of art, I was nonetheless stunned by the amount of art it contained.
The Vogels made history in 1992 when they pledged their collection (then numbering about 2,000 paintings, sculptures and drawings, now double that) to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The gallery has added about a thousand of these pieces to its collection. It is distributing the rest in 50-item lots to an art museum in each U.S. state. The project, “Fifty Works for Fifty States,” has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
As a result, art lovers in every single state in the U.S. owes them a debt of gratitude. I know of no other donors whose impact has been so wide.
The Washington Post has a slide show about the Vogels and their art.