50 artworks make a singular gift

Wed, Oct 15, 2008 (2 a.m.)

The Las Vegas Art Museum has been working hard and fast these past two years to turn itself into an international contemporary art institution, which has paid off well with stellar exhibits, acquisitions and education programs.

It should come as no surprise, then, that it was selected by the National Gallery of Art to receive 50 artworks from the Herbert and Dorothy Vogel collection.

The national gift program, titled Fifty Works for Fifty States, distributes 2,500 contemporary works to 50 institutions — one in each state.

Works by Bettina Werner, Edward Renouf, F.L. Schroder and Larry Zox, among others, are scheduled to arrive in Las Vegas in December and will be featured in an exhibit at the museum that opens April 17.

Libby Lumpkin, executive director of the Las Vegas Art Museum, says she has long admired the Vogels, a New York couple who built their collection from humble beginnings. He was a postal worker and she was a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. They used her income for living expenses and his income for art. They focused on emerging artists, attended gallery openings and built up a collection of 4,000 works that includes mostly minimal and conceptual art by such artists as Sol Lewitt, Richard Tuttle, Sylvia Plimack Mangold and Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

The Vogels began donating and selling works, mostly drawings, to the National Gallery of Art in 1991 and launched the gift program with the help of that institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Lumpkin says the gift “greatly enhances” the museum’s permanent collection, which includes about 200 works: “We are delighted to have been singled out not only by the Vogels, but also by the National Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.”

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