The paintings and sculptures in this gallery give a taste of the diversity of 20th-Century art: from expressive paintings of human figures, to abstracted still lifes, to entirely abstract compositions of colours and forms.

Since 1900, European artists have challenged the idea that creating ‘realistic’, figurative art was the ultimate achievement. Through a series of radical art movements, they redefined the concept of art, and introduced new materials and techniques. Featured artists such as Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Barbara Hepworth, and Pablo Picasso all pushed artistic boundaries in different ways, and drew inspiration from philosophy, psychology, literature, music, and traditions beyond Europe and North America.

Modern and contemporary ceramics, and silver work, are displayed in the corridor outside the gallery.


The IN FOCUS series in this gallery presents special loans and works from the Ashmolean’s collections for short periods of time. Through the rotation of works the display aims to remain exciting also for regular visitors. Current IN FOCUS works include two works on paper by celebrated Expressionist artist Egon Schiele.