The Four Seasons Restaurant
|The Four Seasons|
52nd Street entrance to the Four Seasons Restaurant
|Current owner(s)||The Bronfman family, Alex von Bidder, and Julian Niccolini|
|Food type||New American cuisine|
|Street address||99 East 52nd Street, Midtown Manhattan|
|City||New York City|
Opened in 1959, the Four Seasons is associated with a number of milestone firsts in the hospitality industry. The Four Seasons is credited with introducing the idea of seasonally-changing menus to America. It was the first destination restaurant to print its menus in English. The Four Seasons was also the first restaurant in the US to cook using fresh, wild mushrooms rather than the dried offerings that were more common in the 1950s.
The restaurant's interior, which was designed by the building's architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, has remained almost unchanged since construction in 1959. The restaurant was designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission as an interior landmark in 1989.
The restaurant itself has been widely praised, winning the James Beard Award in 1999. The restaurant is known as much for its clientele as its food, with its Midtown location making it convenient for power lunches.
Over a hundred items of serviceware were designed by L. Garth Huxtable and Ada Louise Huxtable, everything from champagne glasses to bread trays. Today they and all of the Four Seasons Restaurant's furniture are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
The restaurant is owned by the Bronfman family, Alex von Bidder, and Julian Niccolini and, in 2009, has been the subject of a mockumentary and a children's book scheduled for release in August 2009.
For the celebration of the restaurant's 50th anniversary, The Four Seasons hired Manhattan Architect Belmont Freeman FAIA for a full restoration of the ladies lounge.
Art in the Four Seasons
The artist Mark Rothko was engaged to paint a series of works for the restaurant in 1958. Accepting the commission, he secretly resolved to create "something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room." Observing the restaurant's pretentious atmosphere upon his return from a trip to Europe, Rothko abandoned the project altogether, returned his advance and kept the paintings for himself. The final series was dispersed and now hangs in three locations: London’s Tate Gallery, Japan’s Kawamura Memorial Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. During the period in which Rothko worked on his murals, the Four Seasons rented Jackson Pollock's masterpiece Blue Poles from its then-owner, art collector Ben Heller. John Logan's Tony Award-winning 2010 play Red dramatizes Rothko's time working on the Seagram Murals.
From 1975 until 1985 four paintings by Ronnie Landfield from the collection of Philip Johnson  were installed on the wall that had been initially planned for the Mark Rothko commission. In 1985 the artist James Rosenquist was commissioned to install a permanent mural on the wall; the Landfield paintings were returned to Philip Johnson. A major Richard Lippold sculpture is installed in the Front Bar, which hangs from the ceiling.
The large curtain designed by Pablo Picasso for the Ballets Russes ballet Le Tricorne (1919) has been hung between the Grill Room and the Pool Room since the restaurant opened. The curtain is a portion of a Picasso tapestry used as a prop for the ballet that was purchased in 1957 by Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of the founder of Seagram, and installed in the entryway to the restaurant for its opening in 1959. In 2014, the curtain was removed permanently from that location, and is currently in the New-York Historical Society. Controversy over the plans to remove the curtain existed and the Museum of Modern Art offered storage space for it if the outcome is removal.
In addition to the works on permanent public display there are other works and continuously revolving exhibitions in the dining rooms and the 52nd Street entrance walls which have included works by Joan Miró, paintings by Frank Stella, Ronnie Landfield, Robert Indiana, and Richard Anuszkiewicz, amongst several others.
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- Four Seasons Restaurant – official website
- STREETSCAPES: Four Seasons; Serving Up a Restaurant for Landmark Designation