HERB AND DOROTHY, a documentary by MEGUMI SASAKI (Madman DVD)

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HERB AND DOROTHY, a documentary by MEGUMI SASAKI (Madman DVD)

This charming, low-key and multiple award-winning documentary introduces two remarkable, modest but fiercely intelligent art collectors, Herbert and Dorthy Vogel of New York who met in '60 and shortly thereafter began painting and drawing.

But within a few years, despite some interesting work of their own as the doco shows, they had started collecting the work of others. Their brief on what they collected was alarmingly simple: they had to like it, and it had to fit in their small apartment.

This could equally be said of any number of NYC collectors but Herb and Dorthy were different: entirely self-taught (Herb hated school and left early, learned by reading and looking), they were drawn to the most cutting edge, difficult, rigorous and contemporary art of their period and would spent their evenings going to galleries and artists' studios.

Herb was a postal worker (he worked nights) and Dorothy was a librarian. Her wages paid the bills while his went on art -- and what a remaarkable pair of eyes they possessed.

They gravitated to Sol Lewitt, Chuck Close, Robert Mangold, Richard Tuttle, Lucio Pozzi . . .

Their house became crammed with art of the most extraordinary kind and for five decades were a fixture on the NYC art scene, known by painters, gallery owners and dealers -- some of the latter didn't like them much because Herb and Dorothy would go direct to the artists and buy from the studio in cash. They got some Christo collages for house-sitting their cat.

As is noted, they struck exceptional deals on the art because they were often the only ones interested in the artists work -- but they were also respected for their judgement and intuition. They were into minimalism and conceptual art when others were suspicious.

It is a pity that money is never mentioned in this doco (Herb says that is a private matter) but we can guess their exceptional collection -- some of it now stored and cataogued in museums -- is worth a considerable fortune.

But that is not what it meaans to them. They genuinely love the art for its own sake and in that regard this 90 minute film of them, their relationship and the artists who have benefitted by their interest, is a compelling testament to the power of art to give meaning and shape to lives.

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