Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Herb & Dorothy 50X50

This week I saw a preview of Herb & Dorothy 50X50, filmmaker Megumi Sasaki's sequel to her 2008 documentary about art collectors Herb & Dorothy Vogel. Though the couple earned only a modest income from their government service jobs, starting in the 1960s they amassed a modern art collection of over 4,000 pieces, cultivating relationships with many of the artists along the way. In 1992 the Vogels gifted their collection to the National Gallery of Art while continuing to acquire works. The collection proved too large for the NGA to absorb or display, so the 50X50 project was created whereby one museum in each of the 50 states receives a package of 50 artworks from the collection.

The film primarily promotes the Vogel Collection & gently touches a range of subjects, such as the role of museums & collectors, connoisseurship, artistic careers & aging. There are interviews with artists, curators & museum administrators, & we see the Vogels being fêted by museums around the country. The filmmakers like to show docents leading school groups through the exhibits. Herb, in his 80s, appears wheelchair-bound, frail & reticent, but toward the end of the film we see him firmly direct gallery staff how to hang the artworks. The film's poignant epilogue records the emptied walls of the Vogel's apartment.

Herb & Dorothy 50X50 opens at the Roxie Theatre on September 20th. The director & Dorothy Vogel are scheduled to attend.

§ Herb & Dorothy 50X50
Dir: Megumi Sasaki. 2013. USA. 86 mins.

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