NY couple gives 50 works of art to KU museum

The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas will receive 50 works of contemporary art from New York collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel.

Last spring the couple announced that they would be donating 2,500 works from their collection to selected art institutions through a national gifts program.

The Spencer is one of 50 museums in 50 states selected to receive 50 works from The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States program.

Other recipients include the St. Louis Art Museum and the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. (For the complete list, visit

“I’m so thrilled and they are so inspiring,” said Spencer Museum director Saralyn Reece Hardy, who met the Vogels last Sunday in Washington, D.C. at a program celebrating their gift at the National Gallery of Art.

The Vogel Collection is known for its focus on minimalist and conceptual art, as well as its emphasis on drawing.

Herbert Vogel worked for the U.S. Postal Service. Dorothy Vogel was a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. They lived on her salary and bought art with his, getting in on the ground floor of several important artists’ careers, including Richard Tuttle, Sol Lewitt and Lynda Benglis.

Although the couple bought some works through dealers and at auction, “They have collected much of their work through artists’ studios,” Hardy said.

“Over their collecting lives they have developed these long friendships with artists,” she added. “That is very close to my heart, the idea that museums and artists and collectors can forge relationships that have meaning for society and make us all stronger and in some ways value the art as a vehicle of meaning more than as a commodity.”

Although the Spencer received five works on paper by Richard Tuttle and a small stripe painting by Gene Davis, many of the 50 pieces are by lesser knowns.

The artworks will arrive at the Spencer in 2009. In the next five years, all of the gift recipients, including the Spencer, will present shows of their Vogel gifts.