Our current special exhibition, Exquisitely Modern: 50 Works from Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, has a back story that is as rich and integral to the show as the art. Herbert and Dorothy Vogel didn’t just buy art from a dealer, like any old product. Developing relationships with artists—sometimes very deep, close relationships—was part of their acquisition strategy.

They were particularly close to painter Edda Renouf, pictured here with Dorothy and Herb in 1982.

Writes Curator Theresa Papanikolas about the artist and the Vogels:

Renouf met the Vogels in 1973 through the artist Richard Tuttle. While she lives in Paris, Renouf formed such a close friendship with the Vogels that she makes sure to spend time with them on her frequent visits to New York. The Vogels admire Renouf for her multilingualism (she helped them collect work by Joseph Beuys by translating the German) and her deep appreciation for and knowledge of art, and she is inspired by their thoughtful absorption in her work as they contemplate it. Their friendship is evident in the artist’s inscriptions on the drawings on view in this gallery: two are gifts to the Vogels for their birthdays, while a third memorializes their cat.

Renouf was born in Mexico City, studied art and art history at Sarah Lawrence College, and moved to New York in 1968 to pursue her MFA at Columbia University. She developed as an artist against the backdrop of minimalism, whose emphasis on the essential unity of pure geometry is both evident in her pictorial vocabulary of squares and rectangles, and liquidated in the delicacy, texture, and depth of her technique. Interested in everything ancient and unspoiled—and inspired by linen, the oldest fabric—she layers her pigments on rough, textured paper and scores them to dissolve line into movement, creating a glowing color field that hovers timelessly against the picture plane. Here are all of her works that the Vogels collected. You can see two of them in Gallery 28 now through May 22.

Photo caption: Herbert and Dorothy with Edda Renouf, 1982.
Photograph by Bret Waller. Courtesy Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, New York, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.