The Private Collection of Fern M. Schad


Press Release

September 24 - October 31, 2009


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, New York — Rick Wester Fine Art opens the Fall 2009 season with an exhibition of photographs from the Private Collection of Fern M. Schad. Rick Wester, a former employee of LIGHT from 1980-82, is proud to have been chosen to represent the collection. Mrs. Schad, with her late husband Tennyson, co-founded LIGHT, the first art gallery devoted exclusively to the promotion, exhibition and sale of contemporary photographers and their work. Mrs. Schad was engrossed by the excitement generated by the nascent photography market, entering it at a time when there were but a handful of dealers worldwide specializing in the medium. Founded in 1971 in New York, LIGHT was not just a gallery, but also a concept; a vortex for photographers to gather in the burgeoning world of art photography.

In 1962, Fern Magonet moved to New York from London and began her career in publishing at Time, Inc. for the First Amendment specialist, Tennyson Schad. Her interest in publishing flourished and turned towards photography, and she eventually became a picture editor at LIFE from 1970-1972. By then she and Mr. Schad, now married, had met Helen Gee, the proprietor of the legendary Limelight Gallery in the 1950s, who, during an invitation to dinner, did her best to deflate Mr. Schad's interest in pursuing a photography gallery. LIGHT opened soon after.

Through her involvement with LIGHT, Mrs. Schad developed long standing relationships with many of the gallery's artists including Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Frederick Sommer, André Kertész, Emmet Gowin, Garry Winogrand and many others. LIGHT created a demand for those photographers we accept as modern masters today, while continuing to introduce emerging work. Many of the figures, now standard-bearers in the history of photography, were under recognized — even obscure — until Fern and Tennyson Schad built a venue in which to champion them.

In keeping with its artist-centric mission, LIGHT was nurtured early on by the photographer and historian Harold Jones, the gallery's first director and also a co-founder. After Jones left in 1975, he contributed to the birth of the Center for Creative Photography as its founding director (1975-1977). Jones was followed by another photographer-as-director, the young Victor Schrager. Schrager, a photographic artist with a keen intellect and business sense, urged the Schads to acquire at least one photograph from each exhibition, giving rise to their collecting together. After Schrager's tenure ended, Charles Traub took over. A photographer and educator, he founded the Chicago Center for Contemporary Photography in 1976. Traub was deeply indebted to the Chicago school of photography as taught by his mentors, Callahan and Siskind at the Institute of Design and was thus well suited for LIGHT's stable of artists.

In addition to LIGHT's legacy of photographers, it also catapulted the careers of many significant dealers in photography today. The director who followed Traub was Peter MacGill, the first graduate of Jones' Masters program and currently the president of Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York. Other notable dealers and photography specialists who passed through LIGHT's doors included Susan Harder, Marvin Heiferman, Robert Mann, Laurence Miller and the late Marnie Gillett, former director of San Francisco Camerawork.

This is the first time this group of pictures has been brought together in a public venue. The artists in the exhibition include Harry Callahan, Linda Connor, Joe Deal, Walker Evans, Louis Faurer, Lee Friedlander, John Gintoff, Emmet Gowin, Robert Heinecken, Lewis Hine, Eikoh Hosoe, André Kertész, Les Krims, Roger Mertin, Duane Michals, Nicholas Nixon, Nancy Rexroth, Aaron Siskind, Frederick Sommer, Josef Sudek, JoAnn Verburg and Garry Winogrand.

Also available are prints by a number of other photographers as well as several published portfolios: William Larson's Aprille and The Figure In Motion, Aaron Siskind's 75th Anniversary Portfolio, 1979, Garry Winogrand's Women are Beautiful, 1981 and Les Krims' The Only Photographs in the World Ever to Cause a Kidnapping Portfolio, 1971. LIGHT catalogues and copies of Winogrand's Women are Beautiful (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1975) are also available.