Nagel is known for his unique interpretation of women, often depicted with black hair and red lips juxtaposed against white skin, painted in a style that descended from Art Deco. His works regularly appeared in a number of publications - he frequently contributed images to Playboy - and on album covers, the best known of which was Duran Duran’s Rio album.
“Patrick Nagel was one of those artists whose style was so unique, so distinct, that his works are recognized instantly by collectors everywhere,” Heritage Auctions Senior Vice President for Fine & Decorative Arts Ed Jaster said. “He remains one of the primary reasons why Heritage has been so firmly established as the premier auction house for hard-to-find artworks, especially when it comes to popular culture.”
The top lot in the group could be Nagel’s 48-by-40-inch acrylic-on-canvas Untitled, 1984 (estimate: $60,000-80,000), which is signed in the lower left by the artist. Part of the widespread appeal in the painting is the fact that it graces the cover of Nagel: The Art of Patrick Nagel, which is the only book the artist wrote about his own artwork.
A 1983 Untitled work (estimate: $40,000-60,000) is another in Nagel’s signature style, with a dark-haired woman with bright white skin, full red lips and dramatic eyebrows. The 27-by-36-inch image is done in acrylic on canvas, and is signed and dated in the lower left.
Nagel eschews his signature style of a close-up portrait-style image in The Leopard Trainer, Playboy Illustration (estimate: $30,000-50,000), although he retains an erotic edge by leaving the trainer’s jacket open. The 23-by-17 acrylic-and-pencil-on-paper, which is signed in the lower left, was reproduced on page 54 of Nagel: The Art of Patrick Nagel.
The artist included an animal theme again in Aries (estimate: $15,000-25,000), a 20-by-9-inch acrylic-and-pencil-on-paper image of a woman, her gown slightly agape, standing behind a ram, which is the symbol for the astrological sign of the same name.
The only Nagel artwork in the auction that is not a painting is Carol, 1984 (estimate: $2,000-3,000). This bronze with polychrome shows a woman wearing an off-the-shoulder dress and a matching hat inspired by World War II-era military design, and stands 20-1/2 inches high.