Thursday, March 17, 2011

Herb and Dorothy

I read about them about ten or fifteen years ago. This odd couple who was donating their 4000 piece collection of contemporary art to the National Gallery.

I was enthralled with their story. He was a postal worker for thirty years. She was a librarian. They lived in a rent controlled one bedroom apartment in Manhattan. They also lived on only one of their salaries. With the other they bought art.

It was their passion. They enjoyed immensely "discovering" new artists and buying works from them. Always, at first, something they could carry home in a taxi as they had no car. Still don't.

They started collecting in the mid 60's just when minimalist was under appreciated and under priced. Often it would take them many months to pay off a piece of art.

Some of the artists they met during that time will be names you recognize now - Donald Judd, Richard Tuttle, Sol Le Witt, Christo of the draped fabric in the canyons of the West and Manhattan among a few.

They are two tiny people. Very unassuming and focused. They became part of the art scene in Manhattan within ten years of the start of their collecting.

There is a DVD that documents their life, their collection, their friendships with the artists and even shows their jam packed apartment before the collection was given to the National Gallery. At the time they gave the collection it was valued in the millions. They did not want a penny but rather wanted the people of the world to be able to enjoy it.

The National Gallery however, knowing they were getting up in age felt they should have some kind of a monthly annuity and sent a check every month to them. What did they do with it? They started another collection!

The purity of the couple, their devotion to collecting and their knowledge of art is inspiring and refreshing. To see people who aren't in something to make a fortune, but, for the pure enlightenment and enjoyment of it is uplifting.

If you can rent or buy this DVD, do so. It will uplift your spirit.


Calypso said...

Is there a title on that DVD or the names of the people?

maria luz said...

I saw that story on their lives last year and was very inspired by it. Two very unassuming people who are determined to live life well and support countless artists along the way.

Thanks for jogging my memory, Barbara.

maria luz

Calypso said...

OK I found it - "Herb & Dorothy (2008)" running a little slow today I guess ;-)

Diane said...

I had the pleasure of meeting them about 17 years ago. They are just as you said.

Babs said...

Sorry I didn't get back with you right away Calypso and also happy that you figured out the title.
You're more then welcome Maria Luz!
And Diane, tell me more - how wonderful!