Megumi Sasaki’s documentary “Herb and Dorothy 50X50” is a sequel of sorts to her 2008 film on the inspiring life’s work of the same art-collecting couple, Herb and Dorothy Vogel. He was a Brooklyn postal clerk, she was a librarian, and together, these unlikely patrons built up a pioneering collection of more than 4,000 pieces of conceptual and minimalist art. They offered their collection to the National Gallery of Art, which expressed interest in only a quarter of the middle-class collectors’ holdings. So their “50 x 50” project was born, to distribute fifty pieces to one museum in each of the fifty states. Sasaki follows this process at several small, regional museums, and indirectly prompts questions about art, art collection, patronage, hoarding, bureaucracy, the gamut. The film’s bland form refracts the Vogels’ very ordinariness amid their prodigious, obsessive-compulsive burrowing. 85m. (Ray Pride)
“Herb And Dorothy 50×50” opens Friday, November 15 at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.