Hilton Als, author and critic, will be featured as this year’s Visionary speaker at the New Museum. The Visionaries Series at the New Museum honors forward-thinking leaders in the fields of art, architecture, design, film, and related disciplines of contemporary culture. Now in its seventh season, the annual series spotlights innovators who shape intellectual life and define the future of culture. This year’s event will take place on Tuesday, September 15, at 7pm in the New Museum Theater.
Hilton Als is one of the most distinctive voices in American letters. As this year’s Visionary speaker, Als will read from a new, unpublished essay about photographer Diane Arbus and her passionate engagement with New York City. Arbus is a perfect vehicle for Als’s meditation. Running from privilege, she took herself further and further away from anything that could be described as normative and descended into a world teetering on the brink of the void. Like Als, she saw herself in her subjects, but, for her, life became a desperate struggle to disassociate from them.
Als’s career has been closely associated with the New Yorker since 1989, when he began working as a contributor to the magazine’s column “The Talk of the Town.” In 1994, he became a staff writer and, in 2002, the publication’s theater critic. His revolutionary autobiography, The Women, appeared in 1996 and introduced an author who embraced enormously complex topics—such as race, sexuality, politics, and, most of all, the liquid dimensions of love—to an audience of readers who would become his devotees. In 2013, a selection of his essays was published under the title White Girls. The book is inhabited by a cast of characters that could easily populate a twenty-first-century version of Tennessee Williams’s Camino Real. Truman Capote, Michael Jackson, and Richard Pryor are cast as his heroines and heroes, and everywhere is Als himself, whose uncanny empathy makes him another player in his theater of doubled identities.
Previous Visionaries include legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones, whose talk inaugurated this signature program (2009); Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia (2010); Alice Waters, chef, author, activist, and proprietor of Chez Panisse Restaurant & Café (2011); artist and architect Maya Lin (2012); Matthew Weiner, writer, director, and producer of Mad Men (in conversation with writer A.M. Homes) (2013); and Darren Aronofsky, Academy Award–nominated director, screenwriter, and producer (in conversation with novelist and critic Lynne Tillman) (2014).
The Visionaries Series is made possible by the Stuart Regen Visionaries Fund, established by a gift from Barbara Gladstone in honor of her son Stuart Regen. Additional support for the Visionaries Series is provided by the Charlotte and Bill Ford Artist Talks Fund.
Visit newmuseum.org/events for more information or to purchase tickets.
About New Museum
The New Museum is the only museum in New York City exclusively devoted to contemporary art. Founded in 1977, the New Museum is a center for exhibitions, information, and documentation about living artists from around the world. From its beginnings as a one-room office on Hudson Street to the inauguration of its first freestanding building on the Bowery designed by SANAA in 2007, the New Museum continues to be a place of experimentation and a hub of new art and new ideas.