Nagel Commemorative . A Lego silhouette/mosaic. . A reproduction of an untitled serigraph by Patrick Nagel.
For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Nagel was famous for his highly stylized renderings of beautiful women, often Playboy Playmates or celebrities. Though his career was fairly short, he was arguably one of the most innovative and influential artists of his era (Nagel died tragically at the age of 38, under circumstances that can only be described as incredibly ironic). During the 1980s, his artwork was almost ubiquitous, being featured in a number of well-known publications, including Playboy, Architectural Digest, and Rolling Stone, as well as on the cover of the Duran Duran album Rio. No 1980s-era bachelor pad was complete without a Nagel print hanging somewhere.
His style, which can be described as miminalist art deco, was supposedly influenced by traditional Japanese woodblock print artwork. He would start with a photograph of his subject and boil it down until he was left with just those details that he felt were absolutely necessary. Many modern artists, and even fashion designers, have drawn heavily from his style, including Luis Preciado, Robert Blue, Dennis Mukai, and Steve Leal. One doesn't have to search too far to find evidence of the lingering impact of his work - take a look at the beauty salon ads in your local paper and you're likely to see something that looks like a Nagel.
Nagel's women were invariably rendered with raven-black hair and skin as white as cocaine, and were usually placed against backgrounds with simple angular shapes. With their piercing stares (or, in some cases, dark sunglasses), his subjects almost always seemed to be coolly unapproachable and brashly self-confident. They typified the Cosmo girl of the 1980s, combining strength, sophistication, and glamour in one almost-unattainable package.
This is the first Nagel that I have reproduced, but I am fairly certain that it won't be the last, since I may have finally found the artist whose style and approach is most closely aligned with my own. I can only hope that at some point I'll be able to achieve the economy of detail and perspective that Nagel seemed to manage so effortlessly.
The full-resolution version of this picture can be found here.