“Art as investment” is one of my absolute least favourite phrases and the media’s breathless coverage of multi million pound auctions similarly sticks in my craw (good phrase that). The counterpoint to this fetishisation of art’s financial worth comes in the form of Herb and Dorothy Vogel. A retired postman and librarian respectively, the couple amassed the most extraordinary collection of contemporary work and their story was told in a 2008 documentary by director Megumi Sasaki (see trailer below).
Today a follow-up to that film opens in America, with Megumi returning to this subject for Herb & Dororthy 50×50. This charts the couple’s decision to gift 50 pieces of art to all 50 states in America, a wonderfully selfless gesture that reaffirms my belief in art’s true value.
In the trailer Dorothy, who lost Herb in 2012 and declared the foundation closed, explains: “We both worked for the government and liked the idea of giving it back to the people of the United States.” Here’s to two contemporary art heroes, and to Megumi for bringing their story to the wider world.