Tyler Museum of Art

Tyler, Texas




Donald S. Vogel: Retrospective



Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1917, Donald Vogel began his formal art training at the Witte Memorial Museum in San Antonio when he was seventeen. His training, under the watchful eye of Eleanor Onderdonk, was briefly interrupted by a move to Washington, D.C., where he took drawing classes at The Corcoran School of Art. He returned to San Antonio to finish high school and continued studying under Onderdonk. After graduation, he moved to Chicago in 1936 to enroll in The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist rooms of the Institute, a new world opened up to him, one that would forever influence the direction of his work. He saw art that dealt with the effects of atmosphere and light. The subjects and techniques used by these painters conveyed a sense of happiness, exuberance, and pleasure, which offered a stark contrast to the world outside stifled by the Great Depression.

While studying at the Art Institute, Vogel roomed at the Artist Community House where many students lived. This environment served as a counterpoint to the academic training he received at the Institute. It afforded the students the freedom to discuss issues in contemporary art, and freely experiment with unconventional ideas and techniques. Most importantly, this fertile environment intensified Vogel's commitment to paint.

In 1942, Vogel moved to Dallas. In 1941, while he was still living in Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts had given Vogel a one-person show; in 1943, shortly after his arrival in Dallas, it gave him another. While working first as a set designer and then as a technical director at the Dallas Little Theatre, Vogel spent his free time at the easel. During the 1940's he gained recognition in the art community by promoting the work of fellow artists and winning coveted purchase awards and prizes in the Texas General and Allied Arts Exhibitions for his own paintings.

Vogel's work is characterized by his love of color and his fascination with the changing qualities of light. A favorite subject, often revisited during the latter part of his career, is the greenhouse. He first experimented with this subject in 1976, and began using it in earnest in 1978. Having worked in a hothouse during his youth, he found it a natural subject for exploring the effects of atmosphere, light, and color. Like Monet's pond at Giverny, Vogel's greenhouses have become his signature: an imaginary place of endless fascination.

This 1999 retrospective exhibition marks the sixtieth anniversary of Donald Vogel's first solo exhibition in Gary, Illinois. Covering sixty-one years of his painting career, the works included in this show date from 1936 to 1997. Vogel has been a set designer and technical director in the theatre, a fine art dealer, and a writer, but first and foremost he is a painter. From a young age he was intrigued by the possibilities of creating images. The excitement and pleasure derived from the act of creation continues to be the force that compels him to paint.

Donald Vogel will be in Tyler to give a gallery talk at the museum on Tuesday, April 13, 1999 at 6:00 p.m. The gallery talk and the exhibition are both free and open to the public.

From top to bottom (click on images to enlarge them): Tea, 1996, oil on panel, 30 x 36 inches; The Potting Bench, oil on panel, 48 x 60 inches; Tending the Back Garden, oil on panel, 30 x 40 inches; Greenhouse Hour,oil on panel, 48 x 40 inches

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This page was originally published in 1999 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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