Episode #1533

Rufus Wainwright & the Art of the Book Cover

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Rufus Wainwright Rufus Wainwright (Matthias Clamer)

Rufus Wainwright was born into folk royalty, the son of Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle. But he discovered his greatest influence in an unexpected place: Verdi’s Requiem. And now, as a veteran performer himself and a father, he’s learned a thing or two about surviving in the business. Plus, we hear from the man who designed some of the most arresting book covers on the shelf. And the art critic for The New Yorker explains why art may have gotten too popular for its own good.

Has Art Become Too Popular?

Lines for museums stretch around city blocks as crowds jostle for selfies with famous paintings. American masterpieces by Hopper and Whistler stare down from billboards and bus shelters across the country. The New Yorker’s art critic calls the signs ominous.

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Judging a Designer by His Covers

When Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came out, it didn’t look like any other book of its kind. That’s thanks to Peter Mendelsund, whose uncluttered book jacket designs are irresistible, and always come from his deep engagement with the material.

Slideshow: A Selection of Mendelsund's Covers

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Abigail Washburn is a leading light of the Americana music scene. But she was on her way to study international law and practice in Beijing when a record by Doc Watson convinced her to pick up the banjo instead.

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Rufus Wainwright: Music Won't Save You

Rufus Wainwright grew up surrounded by folk music royalty. But despite being steeped in that tradition, he encountered his strongest influence when he was a teenager — Verdi’s Requiem.

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