In the field of photographic art sales and promotion for over 30 years, Rick Wester founded Rick Wester Fine Art, Inc. (RWFA) in 2004 as an art services company specializing in artist representation, consulting to private collectors and corporations, secondary market sales and appraisals. RWFA has developed an exciting exhibitions program promoting the work of its artists and other contemporary photographers as well as private collections and estates. RWFA is constantly adding to its secondary market inventory of classic vintage photographs from early modernism through the post-war era, and important contemporary works. RWFA specializes in finding unique works for its clientele on demand. Please inquire about our services for the private, corporate and institutional collector. RWFA is located at 511 West 25th Street in the heart of New York City's Chelsea art district. Rick Wester Fine Art is a member of AIPAD, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers.
For over thirty years Rick Wester has had a diverse career in photography. While gaining his BFA degree in Photography as a Fine Art at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the mid-1970s, he worked for Robert Freidus, one of the first gallerists to set up shop in New York's Soho neighborhood. Under the tutelage of Freidus' first director, Janet Borden, his first job was to separate art from liquor in the gallery's closet in Friedus' Lafayette Street loft.
From 1979 until 1982 he was employed at the seminal gallery of contemporary photography on 5th Avenue and 57th Street, LIGHT, where he assisted in exhibition preparation and eventually became a registrar and salesperson. At LIGHT he gained an in depth knowledge of the work of such notable artists as Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Emmet Gowin, Ray K. Metzker, Frederick Sommer, Garry Winogrand and many others.
In 1982 Rick became a private dealer and consultant with corporate clients in the law, advertising and insurance fields as well as an advisor to several private collectors. For the following ten years he represented fine art photographers, performed appraisals, and sold photographs to museums, private, corporate and trade clients. In 1992 he joined Christie's Inc., the renowned global auction house as Specialist Department Head of Photographs. In 2000 he became the International Director of Photographs, responsible for organizing photograph auctions in New York, London and Los Angeles while also serving as the department's auctioneer. Under his leadership, Christie's market share in Photographs rose significantly, reaching a high of 64% in 1997. Continuing the successful trend in 1998, Christie's Photographs Department brought in over $11.1 million, which marked the first time an auction house achieved over $10 million in annual sales in this category.
Included in his tenure at Christie's were record setting sales such as Photographic Masterworks 2; The Image as Object: Photographs from the Collection of Barry Friedman; An Important Collection of Andrè Kertèsz Vintage Photographs and Photographs from the Collection of Thomas Walther, among others. Under his direction record prices were set for over twenty-five master photographers including Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, Bill Brandt, Paul Outerbridge, Jr., Henri Cartier-Bresson and Tina Modotti. His efforts contributed to the dramatic increase in the awareness and value of photography as a collectible, a trend which continues today. While at Christie's he authored numerous articles on photography, published essays, lectured, curated exhibitions and organized benefit auctions.
From June 2001 until August 2002 he was a Director at Gagosian Gallery, New York's largest Post War and Contemporary Art gallery, responsible for augmenting the gallery's stable of photographic artists. He initiated two exhibitions by artists he introduced to the gallery, Roger Ballen's "Outland" and a private exhibition of work by Vera Lutter to coincide with her inclusion in the Whitney Museum of American Art's 2002 Biennial.
After Gagosian came a return to private dealing, consulting and advising. Assisting his good friend and mentor Howard Greenberg, Rick became Interim Director of the Howard Greenberg Gallery and oversaw the gallery's move from Soho to its present location in the Fuller Building on 57th Street and Madison Avenue. Acting as the owner's representative, he worked with the architecture firm of Lubrano Ciavarra Design to direct the necessary renovation of the midtown exhibition space and offices. At the same time he incorporated Rick Wester Fine Art, began representing the Estate of Tennyson Schad, and laid the groundwork for the present business.
In 2004 he was hired as a consultant to the Chelsea based auction house, Phillips de Pury & Company, heading their Photographs department. In January 2005 he joined the firm full-time as a Partner and Worldwide Head of Photographs. Under his direction, the firm experienced unparalleled success in selling photography, exceeding all previous sale records. By combining the signature works of contemporary art photographs with fine examples of Modernist photography, Rick established a distinct identity for his department in the photographs market. Numerous record prices were achieved for artists as diverse as Vik Muniz, Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Garry Winogrand, and many others.
After exiting the firm in 2007, he fully launched RWFA and committed the company's efforts to a diverse business plan. In addition to artist representation and secondary market sales, this strategy has included consulting to Bloomsbury Auctions, a London based bookseller that opened its New York offices in the fall of 2007. RWFA was hired to launch and establish a photographs department for the house, while also consulting on marketing and promotion, client services, auctioneer training and auction business practices.
RWFA also offers its clients a wide range of services including collection consulting, brokerage of secondary market sales for both buyers and sellers, USPAP certified appraisals and corporate sponsorship programs.