Join our community
Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest insights on Africa travel.
Cape Town’s robust arts sector and rich cultural diversity are highlighted by the city’s art galleries. Both the bustling city and the stunning surrounding winelands are home to top-notch art galleries that display the remarkable classic and modern work of up-and-coming and renowned artists.
Without exploring some of these extraordinary places, no trip to the Mother City is truly complete. To that end, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 art galleries that are sure to impress and inspire.
The journey starts here.
The Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden is surrounded by the well-kept Stellenbosch suburbs and a wild mountain landscape where leopards still roam. The project started in 2009 when Lewis hired an excavator to make a level play space for his kids behind their farmhouse and started constructing what would eventually grow to be a 7-hectare sculpture garden. The artist investigates the Jungian concept of “the wilderness within” in this garden of private fantasy. Along four kilometers of trails, more than 60 sculptures that serve as an exhaustive chronicle of his artistic evolution to date have been thoughtfully placed.
40 kilometers from the city of Cape Town, in Somerset West’s historic Paarde Vlei neighborhood, sits Lionel Smit’s stunning studio. Famous architect Stuart Hermansen of HB Architects envisioned and constructed the studio where he succeeded in creating a dynamic and spacious area with a spatial aspect akin to a church. Smit is one of the most active and well-known artists in South Africa and is well recognized for his colossal sculptures and canvases that depict modern portraits. An intricately ingrained connection between sculpture and painting characterizes his work. The studio is more than just an art gallery – it is a location where one can discover space and inspiration via art and architecture.
In collaboration with Leeu Collection, Everard Leeu Estates in Franschhoek is a reputable gallery showcasing the finest modern and contemporary work by Southern African artists. The brand-new space complements the one that already exists on Franschhoek’s vibrant main street. The emphasis is on displaying significant works by its artists at the purpose-built gallery on site, as well as among the beautiful fynbos and vineyards of Leeu Estates. DHK architects, who also developed Norval Foundation, created the Fynbosch quarter, which houses the new gallery on the farm.
The Stellenbosch Valley’s Delaire Graff Estate is home to top-notch wines, opulent accommodation and world-class artwork. The estate, which is a destination in and of itself, is home to a significant collection of South African art, carefully chosen by Laurence Graff. This collection includes priceless works by artists like Anton Smit, Deborah Bell, William Kentridge, and many others. One of the most recognizable works of art from the 20th century, and the picture that sparked Graff’s lifelong enthusiasm for art, is also housed on the estate. Visitors at Delaire Graff can observe the well-known Vladimir Tretchikoff artwork, ‘Chinese Girl,’ which is on exhibit in the main building’s entrance.
The STEVENSON is a well-known gallery of modern art that launched in Cape Town’s hip district of Woodstock in 2003. The gallery exhibits works by current South African artists as well as artists from other parts of Africa and the diaspora. In order to give African artists access to the global market, the gallery periodically releases catalogs and takes part in international art fairs. STEVENSON presents brand-new, noteworthy exhibitions of excellent contemporary art every four to five weeks. A trip here is quite worthwhile.
The La Motte Museum, situated in the lovely Franschhoek Valley, is the permanent host to the legacy collection of the legendary South African landscape artist, Jacob Hendrik Pierneef. Pierneef is regarded as one of the best old South African masters; his particular style is well-known, and his works continue to be in high demand. Additionally, the museum highlights the history of La Motte, the Cape Dutch architecture, and many facets of the Rupert family, with a focus on Dr. Anton and Mrs. Hubert Rupert and daughter Hanli’s musical career. Along with the famed La Motte Sculpture Walk, which features 11 sculptures situated within the estate’s lovely gardens, the museum also hosts other temporary exhibitions.
*Please note that the La Motte Museum will close in January 2023 for renovations.
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA) at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, is one of the most intriguing museums to open in South Africa in recent years. The museum itself is a sight to behold, in addition to its mesmerizing collections of vibrant, modern art drawn from some of the most fascinating artists on the African continent. The building was built inside the shell of a disused grain silo, and its interior atrium was carved directly out of the concrete, exposing the structure’s skeleton in an utterly interesting way. A must-see for art lovers of all stripes.
SMAC Gallery was founded in Stellenbosch in 2007 and opened in Woodstock, Cape Town in 2011. The gallery is a renowned contemporary art venue in South Africa that specializes in displaying young and mid-career local and foreign artists. Additionally, the SMAC Gallery offers bigger historical initiatives and exhibitions that enable an interpretive reevaluation of South African art history within a global context. Regularly, the gallery participates in major international art events like Art Basel Miami Beach, The Armory Show, Art Brussels, and Artissima.
The Norval Foundation is a quintessential and famous addition to the South African art scene situated in the Steenberg neighborhood of Cape Town, close to the Table Mountain National Park. This gallery pays homage to South African visual art from the 20th and 21st centuries, and includes a cutting-edge sculpture garden, research library, and chic restaurant and bar.
The Irma Stern Museum is the former home and art studio of one of South Africa’s most prolific and influential artists. Stern was recognized for taking the lead in bringing experimental and forward-thinking art to the nation. Along with other lovely antiquities and unique furniture she gathered, she bequeathed her works of art, which are now on display in her own home. The majority of the rooms are kept as true to their original forms as is possible, including her workshop where all of her original paintbrushes, rags, and easel are still present. The museum honors the life and character of this outstanding artist while also hosting transient exhibits that advance and support arts and culture across the nation.
Get in touch with one of our travel experts today to arrange a visit to some of the many art galleries in Cape Town and the surrounding area for your client!