Call for Entries: 2020 Cassirer Welz Award

The Bag Factory and Strauss & Co. announce that the 2020 Cassirer Welz Award call for entries is NOW OPEN.

Now in its tenth year, the Cassirer Welz Award recognises excellence in emerging artists (under 35) specialising in sculpture, drawing and painting, who will benefit from a period of intense studio time and support to develop new work for a solo exhibition. 

The winner of the award will receive:

  • A ten-week residency at the Bag Factory 
  • R 25,000 towards the artist’s residency stipend, materials, and production costs
  • The opportunity to showcase new work produced during the residency in a solo exhibition at the Bag Factory (with a virtual component)
  • Inclusion in the Bag Factory’s booth at the prestigious Investec Cape Town Art Fair in February 2021

Through the exchange of ideas, mentorship and skills development, the artist has an opportunity for substantial creative and professional growth.

“Since its inception, this award has helped the winners launch their careers and really start making a name for themselves within the South African art market,” says Susie Goodman, Executive Director, Strauss & Co. Johannesburg. “This award is an important part of Strauss & Co.’s ongoing and substantial commitment to young talent in southern Africa – and is a powerful example of the company’s investment in the art of the future.”

Deadline for entries: Midnight, Sunday 11 October 2020

The winner of the award will be announced at a virtual event on 23 November 2020.

Programme Dates: 1 December 2020 – 5 February 2021

The artist is expected to:

  • Work from the Bag Factory, interacting with Bag Factory and local artists, taking Covid-19 social distancing protocols into consideration.
  • Participate in the Bag Factory’s community ethos of learning and sharing through exchange.
  • Produce new and exciting work for a solo show. *Due to Covid-19 social distancing regulations, the exhibition will take place at the Bag Factory by appointment only, and will include a virtual component to showcase the winner’s work to a wider audience.
  • Complete a written report on the programme on completion of the residency.
  • Arrive on time and stay for the full period (10 weeks).
  • Applicants will NOT receive accommodation or transport to Johannesburg to participate in the award. 

What must Applicants submit?

A SINGLE PDF document, no more than 10MB in size including the following information:

  • Representative portfolio of work produced in the past five years of at least 20 works.
  • An exhibition outline / project outline, indicating what you will be working towards during your residency. Remember to also please include a timeline for your planned project.
  • A comprehensive Curriculum Vitae with full names, references, addresses and contact numbers.
  • A brief letter of motivation, not more than one A4 page long, outlining reasons for wishing to join the programme and why specifically you wish to come to the Bag Factory.

*Incomplete applications will NOT be reviewed.

How are the applications assessed?

The award is adjudicated by Bag Factory director Candice Allison and studio artist Phumulani Ntuli, along with Strauss & Co. Executive Director Susie Goodman and Senior Art Specialists Wilhelm van Rensburg and Marion Dixon.

Shortlisted candidates ONLY will be contacted for interview by Monday 26 October 2020. Virtual interviews will be conducted in the first week of November 2020, taking social distancing protocols into consideration.

TO APPLY, EMAIL: applications@bagfactoryart.org.za (with Cassirer Welz Award 2020 as the subject heading)

Deadline for entries: Midnight, Sunday 11 October 2020


About the Cassirer Welz Award

Launched in 2011, the award honours two doyens of art auctioneering in South Africa: Reinhold Cassirer and Stephan Welz. As the award reaches the milestone of its first decade, Strauss & Co. Fine Art Auctioneers have confirmed their commitment to supporting the 2020 Cassirer Welz Award during this time of unprecedented uncertainty in the midst of a global pandemic. Now more than ever, Strauss & Co. Education recognises the importance of continuing the legacy of this prestigious development award for emerging artists in South Africa.

Previous winners of the Cassirer Welz Award include Duduzile (Dudubloom) More, Olivia Botha, Blessing Ngobeni, Asanda Kupa, Nompumelelo Ngoma, Tshepo Mosopa, Thato Nhlapho, Richad ‘Specs’ Ndimande and Keneilwe Mokoena.

The Cassirer Welz Award was originally founded as the Reinhold Cassirer Award in 2011 by Nadine Gordimer, one of South Africa’s most celebrated authors and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, to celebrate the life and work of her late husband Reinhold Cassirer, a renowned collector and dealer. In 1968, Cassirer founded Sotheby’s South Africa. When he retired in 1980 to pursue other interests, Stephan Welz, his key protégé, inherited the mantle. After more than 26 years at the head of Stephan Welz & Co., Welz sold the company and founded Strauss & Co. in 2009 with prominent figures from the business world, Mrs Elisabeth Bradley and Dr Conrad Strauss. Strauss & Co. has since become the largest fine art auction house in South Africa.

After Gordimer’s passing in 2014, Strauss & Co. pledged its support to the award – a partnership that has continued to this day. Sadly, Stephan Welz passed away in 2015. In 2016 the Reinhold Cassirer Award was renamed the Cassirer Welz Award, as a fitting tribute to the two men who had contributed so much to the South African art world.