I really like it when we we discuss the art like this and the things we find in it that makes it compelling to us.
There are arguments to be had about meaning and intention in art. Other more vocal artists who discuss their work at length (e.g. "This is what I am trying to convey," "This is a reference to a specific event in my life."), may tell us what they intended, but, sometimes, other elements get in for less conscious reasons.
I had a prof critique my work once and she picked up on things I was not even aware that I had put in the piece. I think the same is true for many artists whether they are aware of it or not.
For a self-effacing artist like Nagel, we are left with a lot of room to speculate on his intention and meaning; I've only ever read that he wanted his work to be something "nice for your eyes to rest on."
Ultimately it is about what makes the work hum for us as individuals as it hangs on our walls and not some comment on the internet.
For me, Nagel is more like Leyendecker than Rockwell is that his figures are more often posed like fashion models and I find few instances of a implied narrative in Nagel and even less hidden meaning, as much as finding some cryptic meaning appeals to me.
I heard a story that when Great Dame was released and Pat was at one of his shows, a collector walked up and told him how much he liked the drag queen he had put in Great Dame. Based on what I have seen and heard about Nagel's very dry wit, unflappable nature, and great ease around LGBT folks, I can imagine him smiling and thanking the buyer for the compliment.
While I do not see a drag queen when I look at Great Dame, I can see why someone else would.
With regards to Nagel's geometric shapes, I see in those Nagel trying to balance or or reinforce other elements in his work. For Great Dame, the increasing amount of the darker color going upward balances all the energy and attention being drawn to the dog. The light dashes in the dark add visual variety and give it an interesting sense of depth, again to balance out all the color patterns on the dog. I don't see anything sexual there, personally, as it seems Nagel was not a sexual hypocrite or repressive in his work; if he wanted to paint two folks copulating or engaging in other sexual acts, he did.
I love Great Dame for how ridiculously wonderful it is. We have a woman (possibly) in profile removing a robe or garment next to a Great Dane, that, honestly, is way too small unless the woman(?) portrayed is eight feet tall.
We have yet another image where Nagel had chopped the very top of her(?) head, something he was apparently criticized by some for doing too often, and she is wearing a headband that would've generated stares in real life, even in the over-the-top eighties.
And yet, it all works....at least for me and several of you. More than a lot of Nagel pieces, it is a great conversation piece.
agree with tbfa's description of Great Dame: "just plain old sexual heat" and "piece d'resistance"comparing to the below nagels, the others are blatantly racy, over the top, sexually crass. but Great Dame, she is subtle. she wears a one piece swimsuit, the others bikini's and micro thongs, nothing for imagination to discover or, uncover in nagel's caseGreat Dame is constructed around anticipation and tension in offeringher bold stance portrayed in her height and squared shoulders is complemented by the stance of attention in the dog. the arched back and forward leaning head, face and eyes towards her admirer off page, is in contrast. the falling camise, she stops from falling further just above her lower waist by pinched fingers that then hold it open in anticipation. it is a presentation. her expression the suppression of delight. even her earring is gravitating towards that off image maninteresting as nagel's (i presume) choice of title, conjoining the aristocratic title "dame" and the superior breed of a canine which often accompanied royalty, is a play on words and another irony. the tiara light a subtle sign of her positionthe dane is obviously a guard dog. nagel's version of half chastity half protection is also an image chosen to show phallic power. he is there to protect against what he represents and what she is now offering. more ironythe dog's head tilted to the gentleman who has the woman's attention. but here nagel flawed. the line of sight of the object (man) of her attention (again, off page) and that of the dog's do not coincide. they should. and the dog's ears should be pointed in the direction of that objectthe backdrop obviously a pointed down triangle, symbolic of female virility. at first i thought the white dashes windows in a tall building. and then i realized what nagel intended them to representnagel, brilliant artist[image][image] [image] [image][image]