Josep Palau Oller –father of Josep Palau i Fabre– was born in Barcelona in 1888 and died in the same city in 1961. Josep Palau Oller wanted to become a painter, however, he became known as a designer.
Joaquim Torres Canosa and Joan Baixas academies where he met Josep Mompou whom he later became a good friend.
Between 1909 and 1910 he published satirical drawings in the weekly magazine Papitu. Such drawings were strongly influenced by Ismael Smith, also a fellow friend. During this period he designed textiles and printed patterns. In such a task he worked in partnership with Mompou.
Josep Palau Oller designed thousands of drawings, however, most of them have been lost or they still have to be identified. The designs that are preserved are the ones that the manufacturers did not purchase or invest, hence they remain unpublished.
The wedding in 1916 with Eulàlia Fabre and the birth of his son the following year, also encouraged him to manufacture toys – in this matter he progressed faster than his fellow Torres García–, lamps and objects of decoration. Later on, he commited full time to furniture design. Josep Palau Oller consolidated professionally in this field which became his main occupation. He designed approximately eight thousand different models.
The shops that he opened together with his wife –in Mallorca, Casp, Rambla de Catalunya and, finally, Diputació streets- were the complement to such activity and were the platform for its commercialisation.
Simultaneously, Josep Palau Oller did not abandon the painting and from the mid 20’s he exhibited his work regularly. However, He never succeeded in this field. Nevertheless, he was always close to his fellow artists and continued exchanging and purchasing works of art which formed a small and nourished collection that was bequeathed to his son.
Josep Palau Oller conveyed to Josep Palau i Fabre the Catalan cultural environment of the first third of the 20th century, especially the artistic, the literary and the musical. Such influence on the poet was evident. For this reason, when Josep Palau i Fabre created his own foundation, he named it Palau in memory also of his father.
In the year 2010, the Fundació Palau devoted a big retrospective to Josep Palau Oller, commissioned by the historian and critic of art Josep Casamartina i Parassols. The exhibition reviewed Palau Oller’s work as a painter but also as a designer and art collector.
The project also involved the publication of the book Palau Oller, polièdric (Triangle Postal/Fundació Palau, Barcelona 2010), the creation of patterned silk scarfs designed by Isabel de Pedro, that are sold in la Fundació, the inclusion of patterns designed by the artist in dresses and coats of Isabel de Pedro’s 2011 winter collection, and gauzes and chiffons of the collection for High Sewing of Gratacós, S.A.
At the same time, the Fundació Palau has registered more than fifty thousand drawings of furniture, toys and home accesorizes, magazines and artistic objects of Josep Palau Oller that are now available to historians, and anyone who has an interest on the matter.
Josep Casamartina i Parassols.