Wednesday, 18 November 2009

First Look: Herb and Dorothy

Herb and Dorothy
Herb and Dorothy

'Ultimately, the tale is inspiring: Why can't we all be like the Vogels and become great collectors?' New York Press

'The Vogels make for charming company.' New York Times

As part of its First Look program this January the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) will screen the Australian premiere of Megumi Sasaki's filmmaking debut Herb and Dorothy (2008).

Fresh from an award-winning tour of the international film festival circuit, including the Hamptons and SILVERDOCS, Herb and Dorothy tells the story of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, a former postal clerk and a librarian respectively, who double-handedly built a world-class collection of Minimal and Conceptual art with their meagre salaries.

Film Programmer Kristy Matheson describes Herb and Dorothy as "a warm and endlessly fascinating film that gives voice to one of the most intriguing couples in modern art."

In the early 1960s, when very little attention was paid to Minimalist and Conceptual art, the Vogels began purchasing the works of then unknown artists. Beginning with a crushed car by sculptor John Chamberlain, they amassed more than 2,000 works in their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment, including drawings, sculptures, and paintings by such influential artists, and later friends, as Sol LeWitt, Robert Barry, Richard Tuttle, Carl Andre, Richard Artschwager, Jennifer Bartlett, Chuck Close, and Richard Long. With little training  beyond an instinctual "we like what we like," credo, they've been credited by artists and curators with having 'aesthetic eyes' as well as a sincere love of some of the world's hardest art.

Japanese-raised local documentarian director Megumi Sasaki has captured the Vogels' warmth and dedication to artists and their art. Sasaki unearthed over 1000 archival photos, shot hours of footage, and selected images from over 4000 artworks by 200 artists in the Vogel's collection while making the film. Often scenes were shot in the Vogels' tiny kitchen, permitting the audience to observe the Vogel's daily life and their intimate conversations, allowing Herb and Dorothy to tell their own story, supplemented by testimony from the artists they befriended when they were all young and broke - such as Chuck Close and Christo.

"The Vogel's message is also about access," says Sasaki. "Art is not limited to the elite few. You don't have to be wealthy or an art school graduate to enjoy art. In today's world, where art is treated as another commodity and a work's investment value takes precedence over its artistic value, Herb and Dorothy offers us an important question: What is it to appreciate and collect art?"

Herb and Dorothy plays as part of ACMI's First Look program from Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 January.

For sessions details please visit:

Further information

Samatha Chater
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2475 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 655
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