Collected Interviews

June 1, 2009

In a new online collection, video interviews with twentieth-century cultural icons like Louise Nevelson, Oscar de la Renta, Frank Gehry, Romare Bearden, and Chuck Close, among others, are now available from the Duke library. The 130 interviews—conducted, conceived, and directed by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel—were originally broadcast on network and cable television from the 1970s through the 1990s.

Diamonstein-Spielvogel was the first director of cultural affairs for the City of New York and was the longest-serving landmarks commissioner in the city's history. She was appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts by President Clinton, where she was the first woman vice chair in its 100-year history. She is the author of nineteen books and numerous magazine and newspaper articles, an interviewer and producer of nine TV series, and curator of seven international museum exhibitions. She currently serves as chair of the New York Historic Landmarks Preservation Center and is vice chair of the New York State Council on the Arts.

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 were digitized and uploaded to video-sharing websites YouTube and iTunesU by Duke students at the libraries' Center for Instructional Technology. The original tapes were donated by Diamonstein-Spielvogel in 1986 and are housed in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Online, the interviews have generated a great deal of interest. In the first four months they were available, the videos were viewed 30,000 times on YouTube alone, and are being highly rated by viewers.