Herb & Dorothy (2008)

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Released 19-May-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Deleted Scenes-(16.06)
Theatrical Trailer-(2.14)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 89:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Megumi Sasaki

Madman Entertainment
Starring Will Barnet
Robert Barry
Lynda Benglis
Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Chuck Close
Robert Mangold
Sylvia Mangold
Lucio Pozzi
James Siena
Pat Steir
Richard Tuttle
Dorothy Vogel
Herbert Vogel
Case Gatefold
RPI $34.95 Music David Majzlin

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     With the Peggy Guggenheim Collection wending its way across the Great Southern Land it is timely to spare a thought for the important role that the art collector plays in fostering the legacy of art and artists and, just as importantly, bringing great art to the masses. People like Guggenheim had and have the wealth and power to keep their masterworks behind closed doors but instead choose to share them with us.

     The traditional image of the art collector is that of the upper crust society sir or madam - huge ornate houses by the lake full of old masters. Nothing could be further from the story of Herb and Dorothy Vogel, outlined in this enjoyable documentary Herb & Dorothy from Madman Entertainment and issued as part of the Arthouse Series. For Herb and Dorothy managed to build up a unique collection of art not through the blood and steel of shipping and industry but the modest pay packet of two average workers. As Herb was a postal worker and Dorothy a librarian they didn't have access to the vast sums of money need to put together a collection of famous art. Instead they started in the 60s at the cutting edge, buying up the works of then unknown minimalist and conceptual artists. The collection they gathered may have begun with modest investment adorning the walls and floors , every nook and cranny of their tiny Manhattan apartment, but is now valued in the multi-millions.

     The documentary is a talking head affair with several of the great modern artists interviewed - Christo, Robert Mangold, Sol LeWitt, Chuck Close and Lucio Pozzi. If those names mean little to you then this is another reason to check out this documentary. The artists speak glowingly about these pair of working class art collectors, as the purchase of art works often saw them through the difficult financial times that come with being a full time artist. The real stars of the film are, not surprisingly, Herb and Dorothy. Though the younger Dorothy still gives off that sprightly gleam, Herb is now, at 85, very old and frail. Seeing him walk hunched and shuffling brings a sense of legacy and mortality to the piece. Still, perched on a bench looking at art he still seems very much at home.

     The art work they championed is not simple and often not easy on the eye. One of the interviewed artists conceded that the Vogel collection contains some of the more difficult and challenging art pieces. Those who dismiss modern art as "rubbish" will get ample ammunition from this film, particularly the works of the conceptual artists, including empty frames and twisted wire, not to mention Richard Tuttle's frayed piece of 2 inch rope with a nail in it! The devotion of the Vogels to art cannot be questioned. Nor can their philanthropy as their collection was donated to the National Gallery of Art in the 90s and is now part of a touring programme designed to bring the art to people throughout the USA. According to an article in the Washington Post director Megumi Sasaki was concerned that she wouldn't have a film when her subjects really couldn't identify, in the traditional sense, why they liked the art they liked. Instead she found the instinctive almost animal like attraction to art works. It is something innate.

     Herb & Dorothy is a gentle and slow paced documentary but it does both enlighten and entertain. More so, it makes you want to buy some art, which can't be a bad thing!

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Transfer Quality


     The technical specifications for Herb & Dorothy are not listed on IMDB. The rear of the DVD case suggests that the transfer is a full frame 4:3 presentation. I am not sure whether it exists in any other format. It is, of course, not 16 x 9 enhanced.

     The film is comprised of a variety of sources. There is recent high definition video footage which is a little on the drab side though acceptable. The flesh tones are accurate. Then there is the historical footage which varies according to the era and the quality of the source. This includes old video of Herb and Dorothy and some art shows. This footage looks its age. The colours are acceptable and there are no defects, apart from minor aliasing, in the modern footage. There are no sub-titles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Herb & Dorothy is presented in an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack running at 224Kb/s. This is perfectly adequate for the documentary which consists largely of interview footage. Despite the absence of sub-titles the dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There is some overlapping dialogue but nothing important is missed.

     There are no technical problems with the soundtrack. The original score is by Majzlin. It is a blend of minimalist themes and suits the piece well.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Deleted Scenes

     The only real extra on this DVD is a pile of deleted scenes which consist of about 16 minutes of further interesting insight. The highlights? Dorothy returning to the Brooklyn Public Library where she worked for many years, some reflections on the late Sol LeWit and a sad moment when a treasured art friend leaves for Europe.

Theatrical Trailer

     There is also a short but quality trailer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This DVD is the same in other Regions.


     Herb & Dorothy is a smaller and more gentle documentary than some of the others in the Arthouse Series. Though some might find the artworks too challenging or the pace too glacial it does have many rewards and deserves a watch.

     The DVD is of an acceptable standard in keeping with the whole project and it is nice to see some Deleted Scenes added to the package. Definitely worth a watch for art lovers.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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