Artist of the moment….Patrick Nagel….


This artist was just amazing! He had such a prolific output that much of his art is available, especially prints and posters, at very reasonable rates. A few weeks ago I wrote about Romain de Tirtoff, otherwise known by the pronounciation of his initials ERTE, who was the symbol of the art deco movement. Nagel is still considered the symbol of the contemporary figure movement in the 1970s and 1980s. The artist was very successful commercially working for companies such as Playboy and designing many record covers such as Duran Duran.

A brief clip showing six different works by Patrick Nagel.

Another selection of the artist’s work.

Nagel worked in many mediums including silkscreens, acrylics, gouache, and mixed media. Original gouaches can be found for $3,000 to $10,000. Posters can be found in all sorts of price ranges at or Original acrylic works can be found between five hundred and $33,000.


Patrick Nagel was born in 1945 in the city of Dayton, Ohio.  The artist grew up mainly on the west coast and more particular the Los Angeles area. Nagel joined the military as it was during the time of the Vietnam war. After finishing his tour of duty with the Army he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute. This school eventually ended merging with the California School of Arts. He eared a bachelor degree in art  from Cal State Fullerton.

Nagel worked in many aspects of commercial art and graphic design. He worked for ABC helping design the graphics included in commercials. The next year 1972, the artist launched a very successful free lance career. In 1976, the artist was signed by Playboy. He gained a very large new fans with his artwork in Playboy, and went into business with Mirage Editions, who went on to make many posters and giclees for the artist.

Some of his well known commercial clients were Budweiser, Harpers, IBM, Lucky Strike, Ballentine Whiskey,  and United Artists among many others.

1982 brought the artist the cover of Duran Duran’s hit record LP, Rio.

The artist had a very simple style, including some elements of the Japanese wood block Ukiyo prints, reducing elements to flat shapes and very little background “noise.” Nagel would use a photo, and start from the top and work down, he would edit and remove many elements from the photo. His characters usually have dark hair, light skin, his very unique eye pattern shape, and full lips. This look was of course very popular with Playboy. He made limited editions of some of his celebrity friends including Joan Collins.

His death was very interesting. He volunteered to participate in an Aerobathon competition to raise money for the American Heart and Lung Association. He was to exercise and participate for 15 minutes. He did his time, went out to his car to rest, and had a heart attack and died. He was only 38 years old.

In 2008 a company received permission to reproduce a doll in three dimensions that would be inspired by Nagel.

This artist was amazing and even years later we can see his use of simplified and clean lines in many of today’s best contemporary artists. The sexiness look is used frequently in the “manga” type of drawing which emphasizes eyes and full lips. If I was to compare him to an artist of the past, it would be Romain de Tirtoff or Erte. Both had very simple yet elegant designs. Both captured the fashions and styles of their times in very unique and wonderful ways.



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