PATRICK NAGEL

10 June 2009

[Nagel Picture]It is marvellous when you can confidently spot a style in art, when you can say something is impressionist, mannerist, cubist, Dada and so forth.

It is even more splendid when you can confidently spot the work of an artist, the signature style, that which makes whatever this artist has produced so tied to the artist’s name.

Patrick Nagel is such an artist; you can spot a Nagel from miles away!

Nagel Picture]He is so specific, so Nagel. Like so many others before him, Nagel seemed to me to be influenced by Japanese prints created by woodblock carvings.  But what defined his personal style was, I think, blending this with an Art Deco feel to create something unique and new.

[Picture of a geisha face]The result is a very stylistic image, usually of a young woman, a bit like an over-exposed or bleached out photograph, in an Art Deco graphic setting, with the result somehow a modern Japanese white-painted geisha.

[Picture of Duran Duran's Rio by Nagel]I came to Nagel, like so many others, through his work for Playboy Magazine in the early 1980s.  I remember being so excited when I first saw someone carrying a copy of the Rio LP by Duran Duran because the cover art was clearly done by Patrick Nagel. There was no mistaking the stray black hairs, the graphic lines, that limited and strange set of colours that launched a million 1980’s bedspreads.

[Nagel Picture]At that time, just before his death in 1984, Nagel was everywhere — his style was relentlessly copied for beauty salon posters, manicurist and hair dresser sales material, so he certainly would have been a great influence on the art and culture of the New Romantics and other post-punk, 1980s social groups. I know a lot of guys who had to produce stuff like this for a living.  Nagel was the primary artist of that period; he summed up that sassy Lady Di and leotard era.

His heavily stylised female forms were somehow very feminine, perhaps because they were vague and idealised.  I admire Nagel for having his own instantly recognisable style, but — at the same time — this means that something can be too Nagelish, and therefore his style can actually be something to avoid. In this respect he is similar to Jimi Hendrix or Charles Rennie Macintosh.

[Nagel Picture for grunewald art school] [Nagel Picture]

Anyway, whenever I see one of Nagel’s girls, I am immediately transported back to those fertile and creative years, oh, so long ago now…

[Nagel Picture]

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2 Responses to “PATRICK NAGEL”


  1. […] got Patrick Nagel to do their album cover for “Rio”, this was a throw-back to progressive rock bands […]

  2. jazmin Says:

    I bought a Patrick Nagel recently and its amazing! It’s a bleached out photograph of a geisha with sunglasses. And its signed, love it!


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