Civil servants by profession without independent financial means, Dorothy and Herbert (Herb) Vogel have acquired some 4,000 works of art since their marriage in 1962. Today these works constitute one of the most remarkable collections of contemporary art in America.
Their intention, as they began, was not to build “a collection” but rather to find works that they wanted to live with. They celebrated their engagement by selecting one of Pablo Picasso’s ceramic vases together, and their initial purchase as a married couple was a sculpture by John Chamberlain. Eventually focusing on drawings, the Vogels nonetheless acquired works in other media reflective of the range of “their” artists’ practices. In fact, on single artist - Martin Johnson - is represented in the collection by drawings, paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that incorporate collage and photography.
In 1992 the National Gallery of Art, Washington, announced an agreement that established the Gallery’s stewardship of the Vogels' collection. Since then 1,100 paintings, objects, drawings, photographs, prints, and illustrated books have entered the Gallery’s collection or are promised gifts. During this period, the Vogels continued to acquire art (as purchases and gifts from artists), and their collection doubled in size from some 2,400 works to approximately 4,000 objects. The sheer size of the collection—far too large to be reasonably placed in any one institution—led to the development of The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States project, which enables the Vogels to share the gift of their collection nationwide. This project has received essential support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Fifty Works for Fifty States encompasses 2,500 drawings, paintings, objects, prints, and photographs by 177 artists. The Vogels selected participating institutions using a range of personal criteria. Some venues had already exhibited works from the collection or had invited the collectors to speak; others were staffed by professionals the couple had worked with over the years; still others were in cities significant to one or both of them, such as Buffalo, New York, where Dorothy attended school. For some states they based decisions on research that identified institutions with an interest in contemporary art. The Vogels’ goal was to bring work by contemporary artists to institutions that might otherwise not have been able to acquire them.
“We are thrilled that the Mississippi Museum of Art was chosen as Mississippi’s recipient of this amazing gift,” said Mississippi Museum of Art Director Betsy Bradley. “Fifty Works for Fifty States is a brilliant and generous gesture on the part of the Vogels and their supporting institutions. By sharing the works in this way, Mississippians will have an unprecedented opportunity to experience contemporary art.”
Artists whose works will be on view in this exhibition include Stephen Antonakos, Will Barnet, Robert Barry, Lisa Bradley, Charles Clough, Claudia DeMonte, Richard Francisco, Michael Goldberg, Ronald Gorchov, Don Hazlitt, Jene Highstein, Peter Hutchinson, Martin Johnson, Steve Keister, Mark Kostabi, Ronnie Landfield, Michael Lash, Michael Lucero, Takashi Murakami, Joseph Nechvatal, Richard Nonas, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Cindy Sherman, Daryl Trivieri, Richard Tuttle, and Lynn Umlauf.