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Herb & Dorothy (DVD Review)

12 Dec, 2009 By: Billy Gil

Street 12/15/09
New Video/Arthouse
Box Office $0.2 million
$29.95 DVD
Not rated.

Herb & Dorothy ostensibly is about a couple who amassed one of the largest and most significant Minimalist and Conceptual Art collections, but at its heart is about the passion anyone can feel for a particular thing.

Herb and Dorothy Vogel are an unassuming New York couple, a postal clerk and a librarian, who started buying modern art in the 1960s, attending openings and hobnobbing with the art elite. By looking at the bespectacled Dorothy and schlubby Herb, one doesn’t think the couple would collect confrontational art pieces and installations — such as a piece of bent wire that hangs over a door and casts a shadow, which is then drawn over in pencil; or a small piece of rope nailed into the wall — but that’s exactly what they have done over the years, turning their small Manhattan apartment into an art aficionado’s haven. In turn, the film about these remarkable people flips convention and instructs viewers to judge the Vogels by what they do and not by how they seem.

The film may leave viewers a bit curious as to how exactly Herb, whose studies of art and artistic aspirations led to the couple’s collecting, first became interested in art to the degree that he came to eschew the finer things in life in favor of buying art. But as a filmic representation of the development of contemporary art and as an entertaining account of two lovable eccentrics, Herb & Dorothy is a success.   

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