When in Midtown East, you do not need a time machine or a passport to explore centuries of global art. The area’s art galleries offer an array of works that span epochs and continents. In a matter of blocks you can immerse yourself in Egyptian antiquities, European Old Masters, and contemporary Latin American photography alike.
424 Madison Avenue (between 48th and 49th Streets), 16th Floor
Even before founding her eponymous gallery more than 30 years ago, Daphne Alazraki was known as one of the first women dealers to specialize in Dutch Old Masters. The gallery doesn’t limit itself to that niche, however; it also represents European artists from the 19th century through today and early 20th-century American artists. Works by Brueghel the Younger, Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, and Renoir are among those sold. This gallery is open only by appointment, but if you are in search of a serious work of art for your collection, it is definitely worth scheduling a visit.
437 Madison Avenue (at 50th Street)
One of Eden Fine Art’s five galleries worldwide and one of two in Manhattan (the second is in SoHo), the Madison Avenue flagship is a large, bright, and open space devoted to contemporary art. Recent arrivals include works by street artist Alec Monopoly, who uses the Rich Uncle Pennybags character from the Monopoly board game for political commentary; works by SN that incorporate photography, pencil drawings, and dehydrated butterflies; and papercuts by Yoel Benharrouche that display the influence of both Chagall and Matisse.
41 East 57th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues), Suite 1406
Founded by a former photographer in 1981, the Howard Greenberg Gallery champions photography as fine art. The photographers and estates it represents are a pantheon of greats: Margaret Bourke-White, the first foreign correspondent allowed to photograph in the Soviet Union during its first five-year plan and, in World War II, the first American female war correspondent; Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of street photography; Walker Evans, best known for documenting the Great Depression; groundbreaking fashion photographer William Klein; Gordon Parks, who is known for creating the “blaxpoitation” film genre as well as for his photojournalism; and Weegee, renowned for his lurid crime photography.
Photography by William Klein, one of the numerous acclaimed photographers represented by the Howard Greenberg Gallery. [Image: Juliana Su/Flickr]
425 Madison Avenue (at 49th Street), 3rd Floor
Ronin Gallery prides itself on offering for sale the country’s largest collection of Japanese woodblock prints from the 17th through 21st centuries. Its works are not limited to those by Japanese artists, however; it also features 20th– and 21st-century works by artists from China, Korea, and even Europe and the Americas. Recent exhibitions included “Hiroshige: 53 Stations of the Upright Tōkaidō,” woodcuts depicting the sights seen by the 19th-century artist during his first journey on one of the main roads of Japan’s Edo period.
153 East 57th Street (between Third and Lexington Avenues)
Egyptian jars dating as far back as the 21st century B.C., Bronze Age swords, Hellenistic statues from the 3rd century B.C., Judean coins, Roman jewelry from the 2nd century A.D., Byzantine pendants: Upon entering Royal-Athena Galleries, you might think you’re in a museum of antiquities. In fact, the gallery has sold more than 800 works to some of the world’s foremost museums, including the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gallery founder and director Jerome M. Eisenberg, Ph.D., is an internationally renowned expert on not only ancient art and numismatics but also the ethical acquisition of antiquities.
145 East 57th Street (between Third and Lexington Avenues), 3rd Floor
Specializing in Latin American art as well as Chinese jade and stone sculptures may seem arbitrary to some, but not to Spencer Throckmorton, who founded his namesake gallery in 1980. It was while studying and collecting pre-Columbian sculptures that he grew interested in their Eastern counterparts. Today the gallery sells and exhibits Latin American and Chinese antiquities as well as vintage and contemporary Latin American photography.
416 East 59th Street (between 1st Avenue and Sutton Place)
Founded in 1994, Ubu Gallery specializes in the 20th-century avant-garde, with a special focus on Dada, Surrealist, and Constructivist art. Otto Dix, who documented life in Wiemar Germany; Marcel Duchamp, the spiritual father of Dada; Surrealist Max Ernst; photographer and painter Man Ray; and multimedia artist Yoko Ono are among the well-known artists who have been shown at the gallery, though Ubu makes it a priority to exhibit works by lesser-known but historically important artists as well.