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This article covers only those aspects of the subject that are related to the career of Duran Duran.
A much more complete treatment can be seen in the Patrick Nagel article at Wikipedia.
Rio cover

Nagel painted an instantly recognizable cover of the Rio album for Duran Duran.

AlternateRioalbumcover

This alternate Rio cover was used on the 2001 remastered edition.

Duran-duran-myownwayjpn7a

This 'second choice' image was also used for the Japanese 7" cover of My Own Way.

Patrick Nagel (November 25, 1945 - February 4, 1984) was an American artist. In his lifetime he created hundreds of illustrations on board, paper, and canvas, most of which emphasizes the simple grace of and beauty of the female form.

Nagel was born in Dayton, Ohio but was raised and spent most of his life in the Los Angeles area. He attended the Choinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.

Nagel's work is superficially reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, with their unusual cropping and large fields of color, but thematically, Nagel's shares more in common with 1920s Art Deco and the design aesthetics of J. C. Leyendecker or Maxfield Parrish.

Nagel would start with a photograph and work down, always simplifying and removing elements which he felt were unnecessary. The resulting image would look flat, but emphasized those elements which he felt were most important. Because of the intense stylization and reduction of facial features into clean lines, generally the figures resemble each other, though Nagel worked with many models. Nagel also painted several celebrity portraits.

While Nagel's work is mostly represented by aloof, if also seductive women, they are rarely, if ever, presented in a submissive relationship with men. These are highly sexual, but empowered and intelligent women. Nagel also painted men, though only one was ever released as a fine art print while Nagel was alive. He had and continues to have a devoted following of collectors.

Nagel and his work garnered international acclaim through work connected with Playboy and Duran Duran, for which he designed the cover of the best selling album Rio, as well as many commercial projects.

In 1984, at the age of 38, the artist participated in a 15-minute celebrity "Aerobathon" to raise funds for the American Heart Association. Afterwards, he was found dead in his car, and doctors determined by autopsy that he had suffered a fatal heart attack.

Rio Album Cover[]

Paul Berrow, was intrigued by Nagel's sharp, stylized work while flipping through an issue of Playboy, so he commissioned the artist to do create two covers for what would become the Birmingham band's breakthrough LP. One option, of a woman languidly reclining with a yellow blossom pinned in her hair, was eventually used for the "My Own Way" single art. But, according to Annie Zaleski's 33 ½ book about the Rio album, Nick said "It was "love at first sight" when the band members saw the second, stronger image of a bare-shouldered bombshell alluringly staring down the camera lens, shining and really showing all she can. "We all said instantly: 'Yes, that's it. That's the cover,'" recalled Rhodes. [1] The cover has been recently quoted in the press as "the Mona Lisa of the New Wave Age."

Rio Marcie Hunt

Marcie Hunt was identified as the influence for the cover in June 2024.

In June 2024, former model Marcie Hunt was found to be the original inspiration for the May 1982 Rio cover, when a fan noticed her photo in Vogue Paris, from February 1981. The big reveal was announced by Monica Moynihan, a Nagel historian and art broker who runs the definitive Patrick Nagel Arts website and Instagram. The cover girl's mysterious identity was actually uncovered by another Instagrammer, @nagel_angel, who Moynihan said "deserves all the credit" and "spent $$$ and countless hours" to hunt down the original lady with the cherry ice cream smile.

Barry Hahn, Patrick Nagel’s technical art assistant, confirmed this indeed was the 'tear sheet' used by Nagel. He said "We suspect the model and maybe the band Duran Duran had no idea Nagel was influenced and used this image to create the cover of their musical masterpiece, “Rio”. He certainly changed many things, most specifically removing her glasses, but he obviously loved her smile. And that smile has been an iconic piece of Duran Duran history for decades.

It is important to note this magazine came out 15 months before the release of “Rio” and Nagel loved looking through fashion magazines from Europe. Nagel was an incredible photographer and shot so many images himself for his art, but we know he also got inspiration from other sources and this one is a gem. He then would draw out his images on paper using French Curve and once he loved his layout he would draw, ink and paint them to a board." [2]

Marcie Hunt subsequently commented on Instagram that she had no idea, is very happy, and even "played Duran at her wedding."

In popular culture[]

  • In the Futurama episode "A Fishful of Dollars", the "authentic 20th century apartment" has what appears to be a Nagel-esque poster of a woman on the wall.
  • In the Vertigo comics series The Sandman, the character Desire of The Endless is generally illustrated to resemble a Nagel print, specifically the portrait used for the Rio album cover. Neil Gaiman, the creator of the series and character, had previously written a biography for the band in 1984.
  • The packaging and promotional material for the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City similarly exhibits a stylistic debt to Nagel's work.
  • Nagel's artwork strongly influenced much of the illustration and clip art of the late 1980s and illustrations of women strongly resembling those seen in Nagel's art can still be seen on American hair salons and other beauty-oriented businesses.
  • A copy of his work can be seen in the background in the Daria episode #507, "Art Burn".

References[]



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