The Art of Patrick Nagel
Karl Bornstein of Mirage
Editions described Patrick Nagel as "an elegant, stylish man with the
weirdest sense of humor I had ever encountered."
Playboy's Hugh Hefner called him "generous
almost to a fault, often donating paintings to his models or to editors who
expressed admiration for his work."
Elena Millie, who heads the
Library of Congress poster collection, said that Nagel "handled colors with
rare originality and freedom" and that he "created on of the most
successful paintings and graphics series to appear in the last two
Patrick Nagel was born in
Nagel first put his talents
to work as a freelance artist; then in 1971, he joined ABC-TV where he produced
television graphics for promotion and news broadcasts. After a year, he returned
to freelance assignments, accepting commissions from major corporations and
magazines, including IBM, ITT, United Artists, MGM, Universal
Beginning in 1976, Nagel
began contributing regularly to Playboy, which extended the exposure and
popularity of "the Nagel Woman" to a huge and loyal audience. In 1978,
he created his first poster image for Mirage Editions. He also painted the cover
of rock group Duran Duran's
The feeling of Nagel's work
is reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints as well as of Art Deco styling, yet
it is completely contemporary and universal in appeal. Starting from a
photograph, he would create a simplified drawing, then translate the drawing to
a painting -- always "simplifying, working to get more across with fewer
elements," note Elena Millie. Bold, dark lines shape perspective out of
flat, cool colors and stark white spaces; the result is what some have described
as "fantasy realism."
During his lifetime,
Nagel's work was exhibited in several one-man shows; his first exhibition of
painting sold out within fifteen minutes. His
posters have been collected by such prestigious institutions as the Library of
Communications Arts, Art Direction, and Graphis.
Patrick Nagel died of a
heart attack in 1984 at the age of 38, but his art lives on.
In 1986, a retrospective
book on his art was published by van der Marck Editions, and sold nearly 240,000
copies in hardcover in just one year. The book has also been translated to
Japanese and French editions.
Click here to return to the Patrick Nagel Gallery.