Movie Review: Herb & Dorothy 50×50

By William Kustiono

On September 3, 2013, IFC Center hosted a press screening of Megumi Sasaki’s documentary HERB & DOROTHY 50×50. The movie is developed as the follow-up film to Megumi Sasaki’s award-winning documentary HERB & DOROTHY (2008), the film that motivated millions of art-lovers around the world. In this sequel, it captures the last chapter of the Vogel’s extraordinary life and their gift to the nation, raising various questions on art, and doing what it takes to support art in today’s society.

The movie is dated back to 2008, where pair of legendary art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel makes a broadcast that astonishes the art world. Herb Vogel, a retired postal worker, and Dorothy Vogel, a librarian, worked together and built a world-class art collection from their own salaries. The Vogels launched a national gift project with National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington DC that would constitute as one of the largest gifts in the history of American art: to give a total of 2,500 artworks to museums in all fifty states. This program is called Vogel Collection’s Fifty Works for Fifty States. Some of the artists included in the Vogel’s gifts are: Adam Fuss, William Anastasi, Carl Andre, and Joe Andoe.

One year ago, on July 22, 2012, Dorothy declared their collection closed after the passing of her husband Herb. Dorothy works to create a living tribute to their partnership, the collection they created together, and the overwhelmingly positive legacy they have left on the American art world for generations to come.

Megumi Sasaki founded a production company called Fine Line Media in 2002, to streamline ongoing commitments to Japanese TV while facilitating her new interest in feature documentary projects. HERB & DOROTHY is the first of these projects and it became a national and international success. It won numerous US film festival awards in 2008 and 2009 including at Hamptons International Film Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival, and SILVERDOCS. In 2013, Megumi completed a follow up movie sequel to the documentary titled HERB & DOROTHY 50×50, which focuses on the final chapter in the lives of legendary art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel. The majority of the film’s funds were raised by crowdsourcing in both the US and Japan, raising a combined $220,000 from nearly 2,000 supporters around the world. The film made headlines as the most successful crowdsourcing film project ever in Japan, and kicked off a countrywide theatrical release in Spring 2013.

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