Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Madison Avenue is the backbone of the Upper East Side. The luxury shops, flagship boutiques, celebrated restaurants, fine art galleries, and museums have long been a draw for New Yorkers and tourists. Spring time is one of the best seasons for the neighborhood, with its well-kept flowerbeds, proximity to Central Park, and fine dining al fresco. With the newly opened Met Breuer and renovated storefronts on the way, we checked in with the President of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), Matthew Bauer, about the galleries, restaurants, and shops to watch.
WHITEWALL: You joined Madison Avenue BID in 1999. What have been some of the biggest changes or developments in the neighborhood over the past 17 years?
MATTHEW BAUER: There have been three major trends that have permeated Madison Avenue since 1999. First, it has become the destination of choice for international fashion and jewelry brands wishing to establish their flagship boutiques in a location where New Yorkers themselves want to shop, and which values both privacy and service. Second, Madison Avenue has become a highly valued residential address, where new apartments have been developed above our boutiques and galleries, creating even more synergies between Madison Avenue’s shops and residents. Finally, Madison Avenue has strengthened its resolve for maintaining its architectural heritage, its calmer lifestyle and its balance between international retail brands and independent shops, restaurants, and galleries.
WW: What role do art galleries play on Madison Avenue? What about public art?
MB: Long before Madison Avenue was known for as a destination for high fashion, Madison Avenue was a center of New York City’s art gallery scene. The over 100 galleries of Madison Avenue feature works from both the primary and secondary markets, and can be found in former mansions on the side streets immediately surrounding Madison Avenue, on the upper levels of Madison Avenue townhouses, and in gallery-focused office buildings, including 595 and 980 Madison Avenue, and thanks to the recently opened Dominique Lévy Gallery and Galerie Perrotin, again AMidst the boutiques on the ground level of Madison Avenue.
WW: How has the recent launch of the Met Breuer, in the old Whitney building, affected the neighborhood?
MB: The magnificent restoration of Marcel Breuer’s brutalist structure has given our neighborhood the opportunity to look at this iconic building with fresh eyes, and experience the building’s materials and bold form anew. Likewise, as a single entrance fee allows admission to both The Met on Fifth Avenue and The Met Breuer buildings, visitors will have the opportunity to stroll between both buildings on a single trip, and enjoy our neighborhood’s restaurants and shops along the way.
WW: Who are some of the chefs to follow at the restaurants on the avenue?
MB: Many of New York’s most celebrated chefs have established their kitchens on Madison Avenue. Café Boulud was founded by chef Daniel Boulud, whose French culinary traditions are currently being interpreted by chef Aaron Bludorn. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten brings his unbridled passion for fresh from the market, simple cooking to The Mark’s restaurant. Chef Philippe Chow’s exquisite Beijing-style cuisine is featured at his eponymous restaurant Philippe. At the recently opened Kappo Masa, chef Masayoshi Takayama has created a contemporary perspective on traditional Japanese ingre- dients and materials in collaboration with art dealer Larry Gagosian. We are all excited about this summer’s opening of Estela Breuer, the new restaurant by chef Ignacio Mattos and Thomas Carter at The Met Breuer.