×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Herb & Dorothy 50×50’

'Herb & Dorothy' sequel provides the happy ending to the art collectors' tale, as their trove is spread around the country.

With:

Herbert Vogel, Dorothy Vogel, Ruth Fine.

Before he passed away, Herbert Vogel and wife Dorothy quietly amassed a staggering collection of minimalist art, purchased on his modest government salary and crammed for decades inside their tiny New York apartment. “Herb & Dorothy” director Megumi Sasaki was hugely influential in validating the Vogels in the first place, and now that their trove has found a home — many homes, in fact, since the couple decided to donate 50 pieces to museums in all 50 states — follow-up docu “Herb & Dorothy 50×50” puts the happy ending on their hoarding-done-right story. Modest theatrical launch should encourage homevid and institutional collections.

While hardly a rehash, Sasaki’s sequel resurrects many of the themes and questions from the 2008 pic, which not only inspired middle-class auds to consider art-buying (often thought to be a luxury of the rich and famous) but also forced them to examine their notions of what qualifies as art, since the Vogels’ taste favored inexpensive conceptual pieces by artists who later hit it big. Sasaki also widens her focus, offering insights into the state of contemporary art museums, nearly all of which are limited to the taste of their donors.

In that respect, the Vogels may prove to be as influential as Samuel H. Kress, who used his fortune to amass (and later share with the public) one of the great collections of post-Renaissance painting. Traveling from New York to Hawaii, and hitting a dozen or so stops along the way, the film demonstrates how thirsty museums are for such gifts and how the various institutions use these often-challenging works to foster art appreciation.

On the road, Herb grows increasingly quiet, both soaking up the curious attention his newfound celebrity generates and, possibly, silently judging the odd mix of admirers and sycophants who surround them (Herb initially opposed the National Gallery’s proposal to split the collection). When not traveling to their collection’s far-flung new homes, Dorothy keeps watch from her nearly-empty apartment via the “Fifty Works for Fifty States” site; her story is bittersweet, since Herb’s death finally curbed her impulse to acquire.

Much like a work of art, the film invites a range of reactions, though it’s far easier to process than the daubs, doodles and other weird works
that now hang all over the country.

Film Review: 'Herb & Dorothy 50x50'

Reviewed online, Los Angeles, Aug. 25, 2013. Running time: 86 MIN.

Production:

(Documentary) A Fine Line Media release and presentation. Produced by Megumi Sasaki.

Crew:

Directed by Megumi Sasaki. Camera (color, HD), Erik Shirai; ditor, Bernadine Colish; music, David Majzlin; sound, Koji Kawasaki, Marianna LaFollette, Richard Levengood, John Shea; re-recording mixer, Peter Levin; associate producers, Yuki Murai, Takeshi Yamasaki, Jack Chiueh, Helio Bodini.

With:

Herbert Vogel, Dorothy Vogel, Ruth Fine.

More Film

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" in

    Writers Guild Makes It Official: This Is the Most Wide-Open Oscars Race Ever

    For the record, we’re in uncharted territory this Oscar season. While we still have the costume designers’ ceremony to get through on Tuesday, the Writers Guild Awards put a bow on the major guild kudos circuit Sunday night. The results have yielded what is, unequivocally, the most wide-open Oscar field in history. More Reviews Sundance [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” based on the memoir of the late Lee Israel, topped the screenplays [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content