Patrick Nagel

rio

Patrick Nagel (1945 – 1984) was an American artist. He created popular illustrations on board, paper, and canvas, most of which emphasize the simple grace of and beauty of the female form, in a distinctive style descended from Art Deco. He is best known for his illustrations for ‘Playboy’ magazine, and the pop group Duran Duran, for whom he designed the cover of the best selling album ‘Rio.’ Nagel would start with a photograph and work down, always simplifying and removing elements which he felt were unnecessary. The resulting image would look flat, but emphasized those elements which he felt were most important. Nagel’s figures generally have black hair, bright white skin, full-lipped mouths, and the distinctive Nagel eyes, which are often squared off in the later works.

According to Elena G. Millie, curator of the poster collection at the Library of Congress: ‘Like some of the old print masters (Toulouse-Lautrec and Bonnard, for example), Nagel was influenced by the Japanese woodblock print, with figures silhouetted against a neutral background, with strong areas of black and white, and with bold line and unusual angles of view. He handled colors with rare originality and freedom; he forced perspective from flat, two-dimensional images; and he kept simplifying, working to get more across with fewer elements. His simple and precise imagery is also reminiscent of the art-deco style of the 1920s and 1930s- its sharp linear treatment, geometric simplicity, and stylization of form yield images that are formal yet decorative.’

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