I’m a big fan of Netflix Instant Stream. Sure, it takes a little digging to find great content, but it’s there. I promise. AND I’ll make your search a little easier:

Introducing… Netflix Instant Stream Recommendations – Musely Edition – where we’ll be recommending films about art, history, & culture.

My Netflix Instant Stream Recommendation of the week is Herb & Dorothy. An absolutely delightful documentary about a couple who amassed one of the largest private modern art collections in the US. Sure, you might be thinking, rich Americans collecting art for fun, who cares? Well, Herb & Dorothy are not your average bored rich couple – Dorothy was a librarian and Herb was a postal worker.

They had a couple rules when it came to buying art:

1. They bought only what they could afford (they lived on Dorothy’s salary, and dedicated Herb’s salary to purchasing art).
2. They bought only what could fit in their apartment.
3. One artist in the documentary stated that Herb only liked to buy art that he could carry home with him (although, some larger pieces are part of their collection).

While this is incredible (a family on a budget affording great pieces of art!) I think the real story is the connection they made with the art world in New York. Herb & Dorothy studied art, created art together, went to showings, museums, galleries. They bought art from undiscovered or unappreciated artists, focusing mainly on minimalist and conceptual art. They bought (and loved) pieces that were “difficult” – not decorative.

Robert Mangold's "X Within Orange X" is on display at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. Herb & Dorothy collected many of Mangold's works and donated a piece similar to this to the National Gallery of Art.

In the 1990s, the Vogels gifted their collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC… a little over4,700 pieces of art were moved from their apartment in New York to DC. And, In 2008, they began distributing works through their national gift project, The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: 50 Works for 50 States.

Herb & Dorothy donated "Valley Curtain, Project for Colorado, Grand Hogback" by Christo to the National Gallery of Art. Photo Credit NGA

This movie explores art, the art scene in New York City from the 1960s to present, and really focuses on the Vogel’s relationship and dedication to art. Herb & Dorothy is so incredibly heart warming. I HIGHLY recommend it.

– Annie Erling Gofus