With 80s style on the rebound, artist Patrick Nagel returns to the spotlight.
Duran Duran’s most recognizable album cover is no doubt Rio (1982). The flirtatious portrait that mixed Pop Art and Art Deco was created by Patrick Nagel, an artist whose style defined 80s graphic art. Born in Ohio but raised in Los Angeles, Nagel studied art at both the Chouinard Art Institute and California State University at Fullerton, where he received his degree. In the 1970s, he created graphics for media and entertainment companies like MGM, Rolling Stone, and IBM but it was his work for Playboy magazine that really launched his career.
Inspired by the look of Japanese woodblock prints, Nagel began each project by photographing a model and then rendering her in acrylic on canvas. But rather than copying her directly, he removed face and body details for a look that was pared down and linear, and he rarely used more than six colors. Nagel loved the female form and muses included friends like Shannon Tweed and Joan Collins (‘The Nagel Woman’ was well-known throughout the art world). Both in style and mood, Nagel’s paintings echoed the images of legendary photographer Guy Bourdin — women were seductive and confident, with white skin, strong eyes, red lips and wore the latest fashions. Of his women, Nagel once remarked, ‘They never come out in the sunlight. They just stay up late and smoke and drink a lot.’ His influence is wide-spread, from music videos (‘Addicted to Love’) to video games (‘Grand Theft Auto Vice City’). The original Jem & the Holograms cartoon is clearly inspired by Nagel.
Because his art was so of-the-moment, it fell out of favor and looked dated by the end of the decade. But with the current fixation on 80s design, there has been a renewed interest in Nagel and his women.
All images via PatrickNagel.com