The Ashmolean Museum Oxford

Closed Mondays, open Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm.

There are a wonderful variety of museums in Oxford & an opportunity to visit the recently transformed Ashmolean, a cross between the British Museum & the National Gallery, shouldn’t be missed.

Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean is Britain’s first public museum and home to the University’s world class collections of art & archaeology. Refurbished in 2009, the way that the collections are displayed & enjoyed by the public became the driving force behind this transformation. Adding 39 new galleries to the original 1845 Cockerell Building, the whole project was designed by award-winning architect Rick Mather to include the ability to host ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions as well as visiting exhibitions & an education centre.


28th February – 19th May 2013

The Ashmolean’s 2013 exhibition programme opens with the Museum’s first major exhibition of contemporary art. Xu Bing has become one of China’s best known and critically acclaimed artists, exhibiting in solo exhibitions and winning awards around the world. Landscape Landscript will be the first exhibition devoted to his landscapes.
Born in Chongqing, southwest China, in 1955, Xu Bing grew up in Beijing. During the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) he was sent to the countryside for ‘re-education’ after which he studied printmaking, becoming successful as both an artist and teacher. He left China for the United States in 1990 and in 1999 received the MacArthur ‘Genius Award’. His subsequent awards include the Fukuoka Asian Culture prize (2003) and the first Artes Mundi prize (2004). In 2008 he returned to Beijing to become Vice President of China’s foremost art institution, the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). He has exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; and the Joan Miro Foundation, Spain, amongst other major institutions.

Central to all Xu Bing’s art is the theme of language: its uses and changes; misunderstandings; and dialogues within and between cultures. As a Chinese artist, Xu Bing has focused particularly on the pictorial quality of the Chinese language which, he maintains, lies at the core of Chinese culture. His Landscript series uses Chinese characters for landscape features to compose landscape paintings which have the appearance of traditional Chinese landscapes, as developed since the Song dynasty (960–1279). In this way, characters for ‘stone’ make up an image of rocks; the character for ‘tree’ makes up trees; and ‘grass’ for grass and so on. Xu Bing has produced four new pieces for this exhibition which develop further his technique of using characters as brushwork. His Landscripts will be displayed alongside his early landscape sketches and prints, with more recent works which depart from traditional landscape styles. He has also selected a number of European landscapes from the Ashmolean’s collections in order to explore how different traditions interact and to throw light on the fundamental elements of Chinese culture.

The Ashmolean occasionally closes early for private events. Please check the ‘plan your visit’ page of their website to see any early closures. Click here to visit the Ashmolean Museum website.