Meet Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, postal clerk and librarian, respectively who became one of the most important modern art collectors in history.

With modest means, this couple managed to build up one of the most important modern art collections in history.

The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection is one of the most impressive art collections in the United States, featuring a wide variety of contemporary art pieces that have captivated audiences for decades.  In this article, we will explore the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection in depth, highlighting the unique features of this exceptional art collection.

The History of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection

Dorothy and Herbert Vogel were two art collectors from New York who started collecting contemporary art in the 1960s. Despite their modest income, the couple managed to amass an impressive collection of over 4,000 works of art over the years. Their collection included works by some of the most prominent artists of the 20th century, such as Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Sol LeWitt.


But rather than cash in, In 1992, the Vogels decided to donate their collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The donation included over 2,500 works of art and was the largest single gift ever received by the National Gallery of Art. The Vogels’ generosity helped to establish the museum’s contemporary art collection and made their impressive collection available to the public for years to come.

The Vogels took pride in never selling anything they bought even though by the 1990s such sales would have made them millionaires.

They lived in a cozy, rent-controlled New York apartment filled with art. The couple purchased art using his salary and strategized by buying directly from artists, preferring trade to installment plans.

The Art in the Collection

The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection is a unique art collection that features a wide variety of contemporary art pieces. The collection includes works in many different mediums, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs. The Vogels were known for their support of emerging artists and often purchased works before the artists gained widespread recognition. As a result, their collection includes many pieces by artists who are now considered some of the most important of their generation.

Some of the most notable pieces in the collection include works by Minimalist artists such as Donald Judd and Dan Flavin. The Vogels were early supporters of the Minimalist movement and their collection includes some of the most significant works of this genre. Other notable artists in the collection include Richard Tuttle, Pat Steir, and Lynda Benglis.

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the love story between Herbert and Dorothy Vogel

The couple met in 1961 and get married right after.  though their entire life, they built a world-class art collection through modest means.

The two were able to put together more than 4,000 items, over 20 years. In 1992 they gifted part of their collection to the National Gallery of Art in D.C leading to the development of the Fifty Works for Fifty States project.


Fifty Works for Fifty States is a joint initiative of the Trustees of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and the National Gallery of Art, with generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2009.

The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection at the Albright-Knox includes works by Richard Artschwager, Robert Barry, Lynda Benglis, Charles Clough, Koki Doktori, R. M. Fischer, Richard Francisco, Don Hazlitt, Gene Highstein, Bill Jensen, Tobi Kahn, Steve Keister, Alain Kirlli, Mark Kostabi, Wendy Lehman, Michael Lucero, Joseph Nechvatal, Richard Nonas, Larry Poons, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Judy Rifka, Barbara Schwartz, Darryl Trivieri, and Richard Tuttle.

Learn more about the Vogels on their website.


What a great example of living an honest fun life together, with more meaning than the worth of possessions from the material world.

The Importance of the Collection

The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection is important for several reasons. First, it represents the passion and dedication of two individuals who spent their lives collecting art. The Vogels were not wealthy collectors but were passionate about contemporary art and were determined to build a collection that would make a difference in the art world.

Second, the collection is significant because it includes many works by artists who were not well-known at the time of purchase. The Vogels’ support of emerging artists helped to launch the careers of many important contemporary artists and their collection is a testament to the importance of supporting emerging talent.

Finally, the collection is important because it represents a unique moment in the history of contemporary art. The 1960s and 1970s were a time of significant change in the art world, and the Vogels’ collection captures the spirit of this era. Their collection includes works by artists who were pushing the boundaries of art and exploring new ways of thinking about the world.

This article was last updated on April 25, 2024 by Alex Righetto

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