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date: 19 September 2019

Power, John Joseph Wardelllocked

(b Sydney, Oct 12, 1881; d Jersey, Channel Islands, Aug 1, 1943).
  • Nancy Underhill


(b Sydney, Oct 12, 1881; d Jersey, Channel Islands, Aug 1, 1943).

Australian painter and patron. In 1920 his private income allowed him to stop practising medicine and to study art in Paris, where he explored how geometry could influence painting. He exhibited work in London, Paris and Brussels that reflected his awareness of Surrealism and of Cubism; he was one of the first Australian artists to apply Cubist spatial theory to art. Despite Power’s art being of minor influence on Australian art, two of his paintings Fleurs du Mal (1926) and Woman with Parasol (1927) form an important study collection at the University of Sydney as part of the Power Bequest.

Power bequeathed his collection of art to the University of Sydney. In addition, in 1962 the university received £A4 million as a benefaction from Power, whose aim was to ‘make available to the people of Australia the latest ideas and theories in the plastic arts by means of lectures and teaching and by the purchase of the most recent contemporary art of the world’. The bequest assisted various flexible, interlocked programmes based at the university: for example the library and public lecture programme run by the Department of Fine Arts and the publishing of monographs. A large survey collection of contemporary Western art was developed and in the 1980s much of the bequest’s income was used to develop ...

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