An Exclusive Online Talk for Members of the Ashmolean

Exclusively for Members

With Sydney Smith, interim curator of Modern Art, Ashmolean

Looking at examples from the Ashmolean's collections, curator Sydney Smith will unpack common questions about post-war art.

What is the difference between modern and contemporary art? Why did artists start to move away from objective representation? How do I interpret formal qualities like minimalism or abstraction? Why do artists work with appropriated or found images and materials? Is that still art?

By investigating transformative moments in 20th- and 21st-century art history, and identifying key strategies that artists use today, this talk will address common misconceptions about contemporary art, and provide a toolkit to decode the Ashmolean's post-war collections. Newly-acquired work will also be discussed.

Untitled, 1983, screenprint by German artist Elvira Bach

Untitled by Elvira Bach, 1983, screenprint. Ashmolean. © Elvira Bach

The talk will be available to watch live on Zoom and a recording of the event will be shared with ticketholders on request following the event.

This is the third talk of our Illuminating Insights series of monthly talks.

Introducing the Illuminating Insights series

The new Illuminating Insights series of monthly talks, conceived by our Member Events volunteer team, offers supporters an intimate look behind the scenes of the Museum's collections. Each talk will be led by one of our curators or Museum experts exploring some of the more unusual, little-known Ashmolean treasures, and including a look at current research projects and conservation work. At the end of each talk there will be a Q&A for attendees to exchange views with our experts.


This past event has now taken place.

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