Strauss & Co at the Stellenbosch Woordfees
A Sophisticated Cultural Presence
6 – 15 March 2020


Strauss & Co at Morkel House in Stellenbosch, 2019

When Frank Kilbourn sits down with Gerhard Marx, festival artist of the Stellenbosch Woordfees 2020, for a pleasant public heart-to-heart, the audience will quickly get that the executive chairperson of Strauss & Co has a solid hand on and a passion for the convoluted, but exciting, territory of contemporary art.

Joining the writer Sean O’Toole for this interview on Tuesday, March 10, at the stately town hall, Kilbourn makes a strong case for the love, understanding and, yes, investment in talent and the good art of our time and our continent.

This morning talk is one of a number of events the esteemed auction house is bringing to this year’s culture fest. With the company’s recent venturing into high-end auction wine, its presence also includes a seminar by a vinous expert, and two convivial dinners that bring it all together.

In what can appreciatively be described as a sophisticated high-visible presence at the 20thToyota US Woordfees, Strauss & Co is hosting select exhibitions in the beautiful Morkel House in Ryneveld Street and at the Rupert Museum. Post-war, modern and contemporary art to be auctioned in Cape Town at the end of the month are on view.

Left: Irma Stern, Arab, oil on canvas 67 by 64,5cm, R 10 000 000 – 12 000 000, Currently exhibited at Morkel House. Right: Georgina Gratrix, Crazy for You, oil on canvas 80 by 60cm, R 80 000 – 120 000, Currently exhibited at Rupert Museum.

These peep-eye previews are matched by a range of artworks from the current March online sale on show at the auction house hub in the town hall. Experts around at the venues will talk art, assets and other suitable pleasantries.

Beezy Bailey The Monument oil on canvas 100 by 180cm, R 70 000 – 90 000, Currently exhibited at Stellenbosch Town Hall.


Marlene Dumas, A Long Silence, lithograph, 25 by 25cm, R 8 000 – 12 000, Currently exhibited at Stellenbosch Town Hall

The latter includes the delightful discovery that one of your inherited artworks may be worth a fortune. On the Woordfees afternoons of Tuesday and Thursday, March 10 & 12, company professionals will be at hand to do evaluations at the Rupert Museum. Walkabouts with Wilhelm van Rensburg and Dr Alastair Meredith focus on Irma Stern and the museum’s glorious Pierneef Station Panels Talks fit in nicely with the pop-up exhibitions – as well as with on-going Stellenbosch Triennale which Strauss & Co officially supports. An appropriate ‘African note’ – the basic theme of the triennial – launches the seminar programme when expert Wilhelm van Rensburg considers contemporary continental art in an international context. Given the wide interest, his talk on Monday 9 March, tracing the unique aesthetics of current African art, is a must.


Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, Kameeldorings, Springbok vlakte, Nilant 95, linocut, 26,5 by 32cm, R 25 000 – 35 000

Vanessa Phillips, the company’s joint managing director, joins decorative arts expert Sophie-Louise Fröhlich at Morkel House, to shed light on what is happening in the current art market. Later Strauss & Co’s other joint MD, Bina Genovese, will lift the veil on ‘The A-Z of Auctioneering’. It should be fascinating for those of us who want to know, for example, how an estimate of value is reached.


Left: Nandipha Mntambo Solace 2, lithograph, 98 by 75, R 12 000 – 18 000 Right: Nandipha Mntambo Solace, lithograph, 98 by 75, R 12 000 – 18 000



Guy Tillim, Displaced People in a Shelter they Have Built near Keren, Eritrea, during the Eritrea/Ethiopia War, May 2000, archival pigment inks on 300g coated cotton paper 60,5 by 84,5, R 10 000 – 15 000, Currently exhibited at Stellenbosch Town Hall


Left: William Kentridge, La Science Illustrée, collage on paper, sheet size: 24,5 by 18cm, R 18 000 – 24 000, Currently exhibited at Stellenbosch Town Hall. Right: Simon Stone, Red Painting with Dancing Nude oil on canvas laid down on board 38,5 by 33,5cm, R 18 000 – 24 000, Currently exhibited at Stellenbosch Town Hall.

In the world of wine, ‘value’ is very much a talking point around in this old wine-producing region.

Frank Kilbourn, a wine lover (with a wine of his own!), has led Strauss & Co to initiate auctions of the finest vintages in partnership with Cape Town’s Wine Cellar company. And so it’s a given that the house’s cultural presence at the 2020 Woordfees includes a toast or two to the vine and its heritage.

Roland Peens, the knowledgeable director of Wine Cellar, will discuss why South Africa is regarded as the most exciting wine producing country. Can our finest be regarded as trading assets? Find out on the Friday.

Of course, the proof of it all is in the experience, and so it is fitting that Morkel House, with its enchanting interior and walls lined with art, hosts two festive dinners. Heritage-heavy wines as well as so-called ‘young guns’ will be poured and enjoyed.

Toasts all round for Strauss & Co’s first-time full-blown official presence at the Woordfees will be raised. Yet from a cultural point-of-view this ‘investment’ in the current buzz of talent, event here in Stellenbosch, makes sense.

The company has placed its name to the Stellenbosch Triennale exhibition ‘From the Vault’. Showcasing work in university collections, it accentuates the value of enduring art – the kind that the house auctions to collectors.

At the same time, its presence at the vibrant, youthfully-exciting Woordfees signals a contemporary finger on the pulse of the worthwhile and the talented

Galia Gluckman, Green Landscape, mixed media and collage image size: 59,5 by 59,5cm, R 20 000 – 30 000, Currently exhibited at Stellenbosch Town Hall.


William Kentridge, The Bird and its Watcher, linocut, 60 by 79cm, R 30 000 – 50 000

Under Kilbourn, Strauss & Co has reached out in numerous ways to educate and enlighten people about art. Over the years the company has presented and sponsored lectures, workshops, and important artworks coming to auction are researched and notated by experts. The public gets to see and to be informed. Walkabouts and fine catalogues are de rigueur.

From when he joined, Frank Kilbourn’s mantra has been: ‘art is to be shared’. As a keen and informed collector, he often shows in public work from his collection. This sharing motto is also lived out in the auction house’s business model – motivating its high-profile presence at cultural events like the Woordfees.

Kilbourn has staked Strauss & Co’s mission as one to promote, educate and support – and to influence what he calls the ‘art ecosystem’.

“We have a duty to plough back. To cultivate new generations of art lovers, aspirant and new collectors. To create space for young and contemporary artists within the auction environment.”

There is nothing that the executive chairman enjoys more that being in and of the art world. So when he joins the dialogue with the festival artist on that autumn Tuesday, he’ll know what to say, what to ask. After all, he is a long-time fan of Gerhard Marx’s engaging art.

Strauss & Co Woordfees Schedule:


Highlights of Important South African Art
5 – 15 March
Venue:Morkel House, 4-6 Ryneveld Street

Strauss Online Auction Highlights
5 – 15 March
Venue: Stellenbosch Town Hall


Monday, 9 March 2020 at 11:30 am
Contemporary African Art – conducted by Wilhelm van Rensburg

Venue: Stellenbosch Town Hall
Admission: R 20 online / R 40 at the door

Tuesday, 10 March 2020 at 11:30 am
In Conversation with Gerhard Marx – with Sean O’Toole and Frank Kilbourn

Venue: Stellenbosch Town Hall
Admission: R 20 online / R 40 at the door

Wednesday, 11 March 2020 at 11:30 am
Decorative Arts: Out of the Curiosity Cabinet – conducted by Vanessa Phillips & Sophie-Louise Frohlich

Venue: Morkel House, 4-6 Ryneveld Street
Admission: R 20 online / R 40 at the door

Thursday, 12 March 2020 at 11:30 am
A-Z of Auctioneering & Mock Auction – conducted by Bina Genovese

Venue: Stellenbosch Town Hall
Admission: R 20 online / R 40 at the door

Friday, 13 March 2020 at 11:30 am
Where does SA stand in the Wine World? – conducted by Roland Peens

Venue: Stellenbosch Town Hall
Admission: R 20 online / R 40 at the door


Tuesday, 10 March 2020 at 12:30 pm
Irma Stern – conducted by Wilhelm van Rensburg

Venue: Rupert Museum, Stellentia Road
Admission: Free

Thursday, 12 March 2020 at 12:30 pm
Station Panels by JH Pierneef & the sculptures of Anton van Wouw – conducted by Dr Alastair Meredith

Venue: Rupert Museum, Stellentia Road
Admission: Free

VALUATION DAYS – Art & Decorative Arts:

10 & 12 March 2020 from 1:30 pm – 5pm
Venue: Rupert Museum, Stellentia Road
Admission: Free

To book an obligation-free appointment, please contact: +27(0) 21 683 6560 (art) | (decorative arts)