The Pin-up Files

Patrick Nagel pin-up artist

1945-1984

Patrick Nagel's work is reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints as well as of Art Deco styling, yet it is completely contemporary and universal in appeal


From 1976, Nagel began contributing regularly to Playboy, which extended the exposure and popularity of the Nagel Woman to a huge and loyal audience

Patrick Nagel pinup artist

Patrick Nagel was born in Dayton, Ohio, but was brought up in the Los Angeles area, where he spent most of his life. He studied art at Chouinard Art Institute, and in 1969 received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University at Fullerton.

Nagel first put his talents to work as a freelance artist; then in 1971, he joined ABC-TV where he produced television graphics for promotion and news broadcasts. After a year, he returned to freelance assignments, accepting commissions from major corporations and magazines, including IBM, ITT, United Artists, MGM, Universal Studios, Playboy, Architectural Digest, Rolling Stone, Oui, and Harpers.

In 1978, he created his first poster image for Mirage Editions. He also painted the cover of rock group Duran Duran's Rio album, which became the number one album in the world.

Starting from a photograph, he would create a simplified drawing, then translate the drawing to a painting - always "simplifying, working to get more across with fewer elements. Bold, dark lines shape perspective out of flat, cool colours and stark white spaces - the result is what some have described as "fantasy realism."

During his lifetime, Nagel's work was exhibited in several one-man shows and his first exhibition of paintings sold out within fifteen minutes. His posters have been collected by such prestigious institutions as the Library of Congress, the Oakland Museum, and the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at U.C.L.A. Permanent collections of his work are housed at the Bibliotheque des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Patrick Nagel died of a heart attack in 1984 at the age of 38, but his art lives on.