Friday, November 24, 2006
The Strong Confident Woman: Art for the people by Patrick Nagel
When Stagg and I were out seeing Dolt 45 play, we noticed a seriograph on the wall of the bar. In the 80's these prints were everywhere, restaurants, clubs, peoples home. I wondered aloud, who this artist was and their story. Stagg guessed they were probably passed away. I turned, rather surprised. Really? Why? And we discussed that we hadn't seen any new images, and it was possible drugs were involved. I said, I'm going to blog about him.
Patrik Nagel was one of the few artists to not only make it huge, but also to become part of pop culture and be truly loved yet, not held held in contempt by the court of public opinion. This is a fine accomplishment. He never made it to the age of forty.
His art assistant said Nagel used Payne's grey more than any other painter. Despite the day-glo trend colors in nightclubs and the ubiquitous punkers black leather jackets grey was the color of the 80's. I remember one Christmas, Mister Anchovy said all of his holiday presents had grey in them. I said to him, apparently your family thinks you're hip and urban. Patrick Nagel's paintings did use a lot of grey and the colours were controlled and distilled to enhance the overall impression that his women models were concrete, strong, assured and mysterious. There were professional women with glamour. Women we haven't seen as icons in two decades.
His paintings have been associated and as emulating with the Art Deco movement, but they have ties and style aligned with Warhol, Lichenstein, Tamara Lempicka, and Helmut Newman. Her hair was often androgynous, her hands lovely and gloved, sunglasses always hinted at her reserve and her mystery. She was public and her often strong aquiline nose another sign of androgynous equality to men, her forehead large her manicured looks like a masque. His paintings averaged about 4'x6'. Quite different than his posters.
I wonder what these women represented personally to the artist? He was a ranger who saw combat in Vietnam. I wonder if her strength and confidence was something he valued about women and their role in society being able to overcome the struggle to be part of society as equals and healthy? The largest collection of Nagels paintings are owned by Hugh Hefner and exhibited at the Playboy mansions. Nagel was a regular contributor to Playboy magazine and this is evidence of his accomplishment in mainsteam culture , as well as his record sales of a hardcover book and the sales of his posters. His popularity in the homes of the public puts him in the rare peer group of Warhol, Monet, Van Gogh, Lempicka, and Thomas Kinkade, and popular movie posters. He died after a celelbrity exercise event for the American Heart Foundation. He was found dead of a heart attack later that same day. Drug addiction, drinking and smoking may have been a contributing cause.
"I don't think I want to know these women too well. They never come out in the sunlight. They just stay up late and smoke and drink a lot." Patrick Nagel
"I simply knew when I saw those pictures that this was the artist I wanted to start my publishing company with. My idea was to create a series of limited-edition graphics unlike any done before, to create something that would be art, that would be hand printed by silk-screen, and that would fill a market niche between the very expensive limited-edition prints which were then going for $5,000 each and simple, inexpensive gallery poster art." Karl Bornstein
Patrick Nagel used more Payne's grey than any other painter ever.
He never wore short sleeves.
He loved women.
He especially loved women with strong noses.
He thought Pennies from Heaven was a great movie.
He could play the accordion. He said his mom bought anything from anybody, and there was this door-to-door accordion salesman...
He loved peanut M&Ms, chocolate shakes (not too thick), fried onions, and coffee.
He said that if I wanted to work for him I would have to learn to how to juggle. Why, I don't know, but now I can juggle.
He wanted to paint Jessica Lange's portrait. Cher's too.
He would stop work if he was out of Pepsi or coffee.
He thought exercise was stupid. For him, it turned out to be.
Notice the poster above the fireplace is done emulating the Nagel poster, a nod from the tv show Furturama.
Tributes to Patrick Nagel