New Digital Collection Showcases the Arts

Video interviews with 20th century cultural icons Louise Nevelson, Oscar de la Renta, Avery Fisher, Romare Bearden and Marian McPartland, among others, are now available from the Duke University Libraries on iTunesU and YouTube.

The collection’s more than 100 interviews with leading artists, musicians, architects, designers, photographers, directors, actors, writers and art collectors were conducted by arts commentator Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel from the 1970s through the 1990s.

In informal conversations with Diamonstein-Spielvogel, the interviewees discuss their influences and philosophies, the development of their careers, and their work: designer Mary McFadden talks about her journey from her family’s Tennessee cotton farm to the world of fashion, and the New Yorker’s Brendan Gill argues against old critics judging the work of young playwrights.

The interviews preserved in the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive can be found online at in addition to YouTube and iTunes U.

“The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Archive is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the arts, design, and architecture,” said Scott Lindroth, vice provost for the arts and professor of music at Duke. “Hearing Chuck Close, Frank Gehry and others speak about their work in early stages of their careers is fascinating given their subsequent development, and now that the archive is available online we can all draw inspiration from their insights.”

Diamonstein-Spielvogel conceived, produced and directed the interviews, most about 30 minutes in length, for seven series that were originally broadcast on network and cable television. She donated the tapes to the Duke Libraries and also gave copies to the Library of Congress.

In the few months that the interviews have been available on the Web, they have already attracted many viewers. From September 2008 through January 2009 there were 1,441 downloads from iTunesU and an additional 764 previews (watching without downloading); there were 16,412 views on YouTube from mid-December through the first week in February.