Thursday, March 10, 2011
There are collectors, and there are COLLECTORS.
The first is the type of collectors are essentially consumers. Their looking for a product. Sure that product may well be unique and handcrafted, it may touch them a some level, but it essentially fills an external need ( decoration, meaningful gift, etc.) but it's purchase is not primarily motivated by an internal drive. Artists and galleries may bestow upon these folks the moniker of collector, perhaps hoping that calling him/her so will make him/her so. The tendency for an artist to refer to one as a collector is de riguer in the artworld, but it might also placate some deep seeded need to make something more of the transaction than there is.
The second type, the COLLECTOR is the kind that artists and galleries dream of. This person is driven by a passion for the intangibles that accompany the equally passion inducing tangibles of a work of art. This type of individual is committed (or challenged by) to the ideas and the philosophy - the program - of a given artist or gallery, believing that the experience of the exchange entails far more than the exchange of an object - or multiple objects over time.
Herb and Dorothy Vogel are a couple that exemplify the endeavor of COLLECTING. The Vogels represent a collector that artists adore and value, and gallerists are tend to be uneasy with....given their manner of circumventing the galleries, acquiring works directly from artists.
The Vogels' passion for art and ideas affirms the pursuits of someone like me (as an artist) and further motivates me to do what I do. (Not for the hope of having work purchased, but because their passion affirms the passion I feel in exploring what I do; it gives proof of concept that these things that are pushed and pulled - the whole activity that throbs in the studio is vital - to someone else (regardless of the particulars of taste and selection.)
The Vogels are the subject of an fascinating documentary from 2008 entitled Herb & Dorothy. I recommend it highly. I could go on, but I won't. Here's the trailer:
The film Herb & Dorothy will be screened at Dia:Beacon on Saturday at noon as part of a weekend long program to raise funds for the refurbishment of The Beacon Theatre on Main St. Admission for the screening at Dia is $20. A Q&A panel with the Vogels, the filmmakers, artist Charles Clough and Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Executive Director Jack Cowart will follow the film at 2pm and a reception at 3:15 (cost for the panel talk is $10 and $20 for the reception.)
The Beacon Freeze Frame Fundraiser continues on Sunday with a 12 pm Screening of the film Fresh at the Howland Cultural Center followed by a Q&A panel and then a treat of fresh, locally grown food at the Beacon Theatre ($20, $20.)
The Vogels are not alone. They are extraordinary, given the details of their lives, and the generosity of their gift, not to just one institution, or even a handful, but to the country. The Vogel 50x50 is a program in which the Vogels donated 50 works of art from their collection to museums and art centers in each of the fifty states. Seriously, if you haven't seen the film, and you are near Beacon this weekend, check it out. As one who is on one side of the experience of an artwork, (the maykr side) it's to see the result of the devotion of those that don't create the stuff, but fill their lives and homes with what is essentially an vital document of a slice of human creative thought, ingenuity and aspiration.
I've mentioned here before that I work, from time to time, at the CCS Bard| Hessel Museums, installing shows. Last Summer, the Hessel held an exhibit of works selected by Matthew Higgs from the collection of Marty and Rebecca Eisenberg. The title of the exhibit, At Home/Not At Home addressed the very notion of collecting and living with art. The Eisenberg's domestic situation is very different from the Vogels' but the close proximity in which both families live with the work is very much in keeping. As can be seen in the film, the Vogels' tiny apartment was and is crazily packed to the ceiling with artwork. The Eisenberg home, though not crazily stacked to the ceiling with artwork as is the Vogels' apartment, is still filled, cheek by jowl, with artwork filling every possible niche, nook, cranny....and where there are no walls, certain conducive works are installed in front of windows.
It's easy to tell when paintings, sculpture et al are displayed for tasteful effect. It's equally easy and damn thrilling to see art deployed in such a way as to demonstrate just how essential it is to the sustenance of the inhabitants of that space.