Matthew Weiner, the series creator and executive producer of the critically acclaimed drama Mad Men, was featured as this year’s Visionary speaker. The Stuart Regen Visionaries Series at the New Museum, supported by the Stuart Regen Visionaries Fund, honors leading international thinkers in the fields of art, architecture, design, and related disciplines of contemporary culture. Now in its fifth season, the annual series spotlights innovators who shape intellectual life and define the future of culture. Weiner spoke in conversation with prize-winning author A.M. Homes on Friday September 27 at 7 p.m. in the New Museum Theater.
The Visionaries Series marks a commitment by the New Museum to recognize and support emerging ideas and practices, and to consider their effects on art and culture at large. Prior Visionaries include legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones, who inaugurated this signature program (2009), Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia (2010), Alice Waters, chef, author, activist, and proprietor of Chez Panisse Restaurant (2011), and artist and architect Maya Lin (2012).
Mad Men belongs to and defines a remarkable decade in cable drama programming. When it first premiered in 2007, it was instantly seen to be part of an emerging tradition that includes shows like The Wire, Deadwood, and The Sopranos. Like its predecessors, Mad Men was immediately distinguished by its setting, characters, and the quality of its writing. Set in New York in the 1960s, the show has the extraordinary ability to vividly recreate that decade even while remaining bracingly contemporary.
“Mad Men cuts like a razor, but its humanitarian impulses lift the show above the never-ending, brutal cycles of competition,” said Richard Flood, Director of Special Projects and Curator at Large, New Museum. “Matthew Weiner has created something that has raised television’s standard for quality and invention. Mad Men is a true, visionary accomplishment, one that transcends genre and suggests a new, expanded definition of telenovela because ‘series’ just isn’t adequate.”
Mad Men is one of television’s most acclaimed programs, and joined an elite group in 2011 when it became only the fourth drama to be awarded four consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series. Additional honors for the series include three Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Drama Series, a Peabody Award, three Producers Guild Awards, four Writers Guild Awards, three Directors Guild Award nominations, and it has been named one of AFI’s Top 10 Outstanding Television Programs for five years running.