Who was J.W. Power of the University’s Power Institute?


  • Ann Stephen


What do we know about the artist and benefactor J.W. Power (1881-1943)? He studied medicine in Sydney, left for Europe in 1906, and served in the First World War, before studying art in Paris in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s he was an accepted member of the Paris avant-garde and active in the international group Abstraction-Création. In 1962 the University announced his remarkably generous bequest that sought to “make available to the people of Australia the latest ideas and theories in the plastic arts … so as to bring the people of Australia in more direct touch with the latest art development in other countries”. Yet Power as an expatriate artist has been all but invisible in Australian art. In this talk I will examine aspects of Power’s own art and its legacy in Australian art. Dr Ann Stephen is Senior Curator, University Art Gallery & University Art Collection, The University of Sydney.