Bag Factory Artists’ Studios is proud to host the annual Cassirer Welz Award, in partnership with Strauss & Co. Now in its ninth year, the award honours two doyens of art auctioneering in South Africa: Reinhold Cassirer and Stephan Welz.
The award acknowledges excellence demonstrated by emerging artists specialising in sculpture, drawing and painting, with an opportunity to showcase their talents to a broader audience. The winner receives a ten-week residency at the Bag Factory Artists’ studios, culminating in a solo show of newly created work at a leading commercial art gallery.
“Since its inception this award has seen the winners launch their careers and really start making a name for themselves within the South Africa art market,” says Susie Goodman, General Manager, Strauss & Co Johannesburg. Previous winners include artists such as Olivia Botha, Blessing Ngobeni, Asanda Kupa, Nompumelelo Ngoma, Tshepo Mosopa, Thato Nhlapho, Richard “Specs” Ndimande and Keneilwe Mokoena.
The winner receives studio space, a contribution towards material costs and transport stipend, as well as the opportunity to interact with the resident artists at the Bag Factory. Through the exchange of ideas, mentorship and skills development, the artist has an opportunity for substantial creative and professional growth.
The award was founded 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 German collector and dealer. In 1968, Cassirer founded Sotheby’s South Africa, now known as Stephan Welz & Co. in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Stephan Welz, his key protégé, inherited the mantle when, in 1980, Cassirer retired to pursue other interests. After more than 26 years at the head of Stephan Welz & Co., Welz sold the company and proceeded to found Strauss & Co in 2008, with celebrated figures in the business world, Mrs Elisabeth Bradley and Dr Conrad Strauss. Strauss & Co has emerged as the largest fine art auction house in South Africa and the global leader in the South African art market.
After Gordimer’s passing in 2014, Strauss & Co. pledged their support to see the continuation of the 2015 award – a partnership that has continued to this day. Sadly, Stephan Welz passed away that same year. 2016 saw the Reinhold Cassirer award changing its name to the Cassirer Welz Award as a fitting tribute to both men.