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Louis Norval

Louis Norval

Cape Town, South Africa

Real estate

Contemporary art from Africa; Modern South African art

Overview

After collecting art for 20 years, South African property investor Louis Norval and his family began to consider “how we could make a difference through art,” Norval told the Art Newspaper in 2018. “I felt there was a big hole in society—arts education [in South Africa] is very much lacking.” His concerns led to the Norval Foundation, a 20,000-square-foot private museum including a sculpture park and a nature reserve which opened 2018 in Cape Town and today displays contemporary and modern South African art from Norval’s personal collection and international artists. The ambitious project joins Zeitz MOCAA, Africa’s first major museum of contemporary art, as instant, essential fixtures in the country’s cultural landscape. (Though, according to Norval, he acquired the nearly 120-acre plot of land for a private museum, “before Jochen Zeitz even considered opening a museum.”) 

The cofounder of Attfund, one of the largest private-property investment companies in South Africa, has become known for his massive art holdings, which include works by African artists such as Alexis Preller, Gladys Mgudlandlu, Noria Mabasa, Jackson Hlungwane, and Gerard Sekoto. He reportedly paid Bruce Campbell Smith tens of millions of rand for his entire collection of work by largely artists produced between the 1920s and 2005. The Norval Foundation also owns Sekoto’s Foundation, the Edoardo Villa Estate Collection, and Preller’s complete archive. Norval has stressed, though, that his family is “a minority” on the foundation’s governing board and that “there is no requirement or expectation that it should show art from my collection.”

Newswire