The Playboy Art Gallery: Patrick Nagel

By Aaron Baker Illustration by Patrick Nagel

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Patrick Nagel

www.patricknagel.com

A Los Angeles-based artist who is considered to be the greatest exemplar of the New Wave style of art of fashion, Patrick Nagel captured the flashy glamour of 1980s America in his striking paintings and prints.

Playboy hired Nagel to create illustrations in 1974 and he quickly became a frequent and beloved contributor. He is most known for the highly stylized women who illustrated the magazine’s regular advice feature, “The Playboy Advisor,” on which he worked from 1975 until his death in 1984. He cited Japanese art and fashion photography as important influences on his work and said he considered the women he painted the quintessential beauties of his time—elegant, sophisticated and sensual. His paintings often featured saturated colors and bold, crisp lines layered on geometric patterns.

Nagel often based his paintings on photographs of models. He would then make a drawing from the photo, eliminating any details he felt were extraneous. The finished work only offered the viewer that visual information that the artist felt was needed to understand the subject’s story.

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Aaron Baker is the Curator of the Playboy Collection. He manages the display, care and cataloging of more than 5,000 works across five locations, including the Playboy Mansion. Baker works with galleries, museums and publishers to bring greater awareness to Playboy’s history and to highlight the role the magazine and its artists have played in shaping our understanding of what’s modern and cool in America. Before joining Playboy, Baker worked as a fine art specialist for Butterfields & Butterfields, where he organized The Playboy Auction, an auction that led to his current position.

In addition to previously serving as an Adjunct Professor of Art at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Northwestern University, he served on the Exhibition Selections Committee for the Chicago Cultural Center from 2005 to 2009 and has been a judge for the Heartland Alliance’s Art Against AIDS from 2006 to the present. Baker is an artist and received his BFA from the University of North Texas in 1994 and his MFA from University of Nevada at Las Vegas in 1998.


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