Remove this ad


Mar 10 13 9:46 PM

Tags : :

This seems like a good evening to start this thread, as 4/40 was just sold today and I expect the new owner is going to love it as much as I love my 14/40, which has not come down from the wall since it got placed there several years ago.
Seated Man deserves its own thread.  Heck, most of the images do.  I thought this would be a good place to start discussing this work.

Seated Man was released as a limited edition graphic in July of 1981.
40 hand signed and numbered
10 hand signed Artist's Proofs
and at least 1 hand signed Printer's Proof (which is not listed in the book, but I have seen the signature and the notation, and like most, if not all, of Nagel's official printer's proof, Patrick actually
wrote out "Printer's Proof" in his handwriting, which would make it very difficult for anyone to forge.)

It was never reported to be a good seller, and I suppose some of that may come from the fact that many  a Nagel collector is looking for the subject matter to be a female.  I will say the subset of Nagel fans that admire this peice appear to do so passionately, myself included.

When looking for what might have inspired Nagel to do this work, I started looking at the other commercial work he was doing just before the release of Seated Man.

Eight months before Pat and Mirage Editions released Seated Man, Nagel had this illustration, a very small black and white drawing, published in Playboy.

It is hard for me to believe this is a coincidence; the similarities are striking.

A month later, January of 1981, six months before the release of Seated Man, Playboy published "The Tomorrow Show" which was a men's fashion spread, which included five full color paintings by Patrick Nagel.  

While none of the pieces seem directly related to Seated Man this was the largest commission from Playboy Nagel had had since a very early in his working relationship with Playboy. 

In June of 1981, one month before the release of Seated Man, Nagel was commissioned to do another set of illustrations for Playboy's article "The Ploys of Summer."  The images in this article include a landscape of Monument Valley, a car (with the Collectors Gallery trees behind it) a plane, and ship with a seagull.  Only one illustration contains a figure, a male, resting on the floor of a sauna.

Man in Sauna is remarkable for several reasons, but not the least of which is that it is one of the very few pieces where Nagel created a fully rendered environment.

The Playboy works are really valuable as a set because not only do the demonstrate the progression of Nagel's style, but they let us know what he was working on when, in a way that creates a time stamp for his ideas for paintings.

It seems to me that Seated Man might have his origins in the same photo-shoot that resulted in Man with IV and Man in Sauna.  The hair is quite similar in both (not that there were a lot of other options) and the timeline is right.  

One thing to note is that the internet can be the worst at unsubstantiated facts, because someone can post something on their site and then it sticks with folks, particularly when no one takes the time to refute it.  

In this regard, others have speculated that Seated Man could be a self-portrait of Nagel.  This never seemed true to me for the simple fact that Patrick seems to have always had a beard in adulthood.  Also his nose is completely a different shape in profe than that of Seated Man.  But, when I had the change to ask Barry Haun, Nagel's assistant for the last part of his life, I did.  While he reported that he was not yet working with Nagel when the image was created, he clearly remembered seeing the photo used for Seated Man and it was of a male model, not Pat.

Barry did some restoration work on the original on illustration board, which was sold at Just Looking Gallery's 2007 Patrick Nagel retrospective.  Below is as is appeared at that show.

Barry is the person that convinced Nagel to start painting on canvas, which is why a large work like Seated Man that later in Pat's career would have been rendered on canvas, only exists on board.

While I was admiring it, I also got the chance to look at the two versions of he black line illustrations that were done for Seated Man.  One version had the hair filled in and was smaller than the other.  

Nagelite, I believe, also mentioned once at the old Nagel discussion boards, that Seated Man was originally going to be a smaller print.  This would explain the versions created on black line and, also, why the print has some differences from the original work on board.

The image below is a better version of the original work on board as it appeared in one of the Nagel calendars released by the estate:

I know it is hard to tell in this photo, but the line of the figures shoulder runs longer on the original.  Also, the hair as a couple of places where the highlight are paired up as opposed to all be single highlights as they appear in the graphic.  And, then there is the highlight behind the ear on the original that is not o the serigraph.

There are also subtle differences in the eyes. 

I find the work itself very interesting for many reasons.  

The piece is incredibly well drawn, and the details in the hands and the shortening of the left hand is particularly well done considering Nagel's work often does not easily lend it self to anything other than flattened space.

The man's haircut is timeless and his trousers are fad-proof classics.

I also find the choice of where Nagel bisects the background really interesting.  It is about 1/3 from the top of the work and creates a sense of space for the figure (enhanced by the addition of the small geometric shapes) that would otherwise be absent without it.

As for the way this man is posed: 

Nagel has this man sitting on a block, like he is a work of art.  He had presumably just painted an man sitting in a chair.  He is also in profile, but unlike most of Nagel's profiles of women, which are most often looking straight ahead with their heads held high (Yochum-Kay being he most notable exception.), this man has his head tilted down, which makes him appear more submissive and relaxed.

This man is also not wearing any shoes, socks, or a shirt.  (No shoes, no shift, no service!)
These all make this man more vulnerable, and frankly, objectified.  This man, to me, looks so demure, particularly when compared to the figure in Nagel's next work, Great Dame, released just three months later, is a vision of strength with her head upright and shoulder back.

Those who see in Nagel objectified women are failing to see past the superficial. ALL visual art turns its subject matter into a object.  Nagels women were no more objectified than the women in the works of Renoir, Degas, or Rodin.

But Nagel's single image of man released as a serigraph by Mirage is a man that can be seen as being slightly submissive and accepting of his objectification.  He is clearly more so than any of the men from "The Tomorrow Show" paintings that were created around the same time.

And the barefoot.  Nagel rarely showed bare feet.  We'd have to wait until the image that became NC/CN 4 to see another shoe-less foot.

Most likely without even thinking about it, Seated Man is Nagel's answer to that pseudo-sexist criticism, while also being an incredible work of art.



Quote    Reply   
Remove this ad
Remove this ad

#1 [url]

Mar 11 13 7:40 AM

I am SOOOO excited for the new owner!! Congrats. What a win! Amazing. At least now I know he is no longer competition (; This is one of my favorite pieces. Absolutely beautiful. 

Quote    Reply   



Posts: 105

#2 [url]

Mar 11 13 9:38 PM

The new owner is equally excited! He is celebrating with a steak and Led Zeppelin I.

Thank you for your information and comments NA. Interesting "improvements" on the graphic edition over the original. I am looking forward to seeing this up close. And counting the purported 8 colors. I'm also glad that he decided to do a large format because this will partner well with Carol.

Now, I am not yet well-schooled in art, but I will make some comments in response to yours. I am partly in agreement with you on objectification. I assume you are referring to sexual objectification. This is an important topic to me because I dislike it, so my interest in Nagel is push-pull. I believe an artist portraying the opposite sex is by default susceptible to objectify them. However, I do not believe this is true for painting one's same sex, at least for heterosexuals. I define art as the careful conveyance of one's thoughts, conscious or subconscious, in which case one cannot convey objectification where there is none.

So yes, Renoir was a serial objectifier (Picasso takes the prize, one reason I dislike his work), and Nagel was one as well. But Rodin's Thinker, and Seated Man to some extent, I do not see as objectified because I believe the artists had a different intention in mind, making the display of a male body incidental. If one wishes to take it as an object, one does so, but one cannot redefine its origin. As I said, I define art as any conveyance, a definition which becomes fixed at the point of creation. So I do not mean to say you're wrong, this is just my somewhat complicated perspective which I have developed to establish a coherent idea in my mind of what art is.

I like Nagel because he explores this boundary between objectification and humanization, ironically proving the emptiness of the former. To quote from our prior correspondence, "I think there is a central conflict in Nagel's work: that female beauty may be seen as the power to be suggestive, or the power to be graceful. Whether Pat intended this or not, I don't know, perhaps he was evolving, but in my eyes the body of work resolves the question in favor of the latter. The male paintings are analogous; i.e. male beauty is not from masculinity but masculinity plus sensitivity."

Now, of course I am projecting my hopes where there may be none, but I think there is something to this. Nagel was versatile, making lascivious works for Playboy, but exploring his form to the fullest as an artist proper.

I do not see Seated Man as submissive at all, but stripped of defense. I see a man struggling with all the other Nagel women, perhaps his Nagel wife, trying to reconcile their tremendous beauty with their dignity. I like to imagine that it is Nagel explaining, and perhaps justifying, the schizophrenic nature of his women, some strong and dignified and others...objectified and empty. It represents an unresolved conflict to me. In this sense—if I'm correct—it would be a mental self-portrait. Compare with Prince Charming. I see that man as an earlier Seated Man, before he learned the hard way that the tendency of men and women to objectify one another, sometimes mutually, and sometimes unwittingly, is an obstacle to overcome before we can appreciate the opposite sex.

Quote    Reply   

#3 [url]

Mar 24 13 6:50 PM

have been pondering the approach on this, nagel-angel, and as a juxtaposition often lends itself a useful tool for critique, i thought a contrast n comparison between Seated Man and Great Dame would be appropriate. and i find it interesting n/a, that we chose the same nagel to compare it to. everything's the opposite. (well, no pussy cat) (perhaps they are obvious choices) and i love it!

your suggestion that Seated Man's lack of broader market appeal, nagel-angel, due to the absence of what nagel became famous, the female figure, is, i think, an astute observation. the graphic is as predominant a piece as his others

most nagel men are portrayed physically weaker. and in no other nagel man is that seen more than in Seated Man. but just because nagel has chosen to do so, i do not see how the figure is presented or should be regarded as an object

to consider graphic or categorically describe the subject of visual art as so, i think, is no more than a label such as calling any particular color by its name. it may be so, yet any one color could be exchanged for another and it would make no difference whatsoever. yet perhaps nagel chose to paint because he loved camels and paint brushes were often made of camel hair. i see here, only the cigar

i wonder, n/a, if patrick's approach to bare feet was influenced by a study in japanese culture from where his wood block base came. the asian fetish with feet though is not characterized, i think, in either pieces Seated Man or NC 4. and then, how often does patrick portrayed a grasping of the ankle by both hands

the whole figure is passive, compliant. little surprised nagel put such (although not much) muscle tone in the figure

-face, eye sight in line with the arms and relaxed leg all down reinforces the demure facial expression
-the tilted neck
-rounded and relaxed shoulders
-curved back
-knee pulled up to chest and grasped by the arms
-both hands holding the ankle (which should not be under appreciated to understand the piece; like Great Dame's camise pinching fingers)
-femininely tweaked toes
-chest covered by arms as though the figure were a female covering her breasts (similar to Man in Sauna)

-full head portrayed in contrast to the cropped head. notice n/a, most nagel men have full heads. patrick is consistent in his meaning

why did patrick put the Seated Man on a pedestal? a relationship between the genders, there is the idiom that 'he has placed her upon a pedestal'. in which case, he does not necessarily think her perfect, but feels his love for her perfect (even if he is blind to it). so perhaps nagel has reversed the role here, the man is upon the pedestal, along with the other reverse gender characteristics which so definitively defines patrick's work. maybe patrick was placing his own estimation of what the female is upon a pedestal

i notice the ink line, also n/a, and repeated graphics -the diamonds- that they intersect 2/3s of the head as well as the work itself, about as much of the head remains below the line as patrick often cut off the head of the nagel woman. i get a feeling the background is contrasting that remaining portion of the head. there is meaning to it

if i were to name this artwork, i think i might call it A Pensive Man. there is a considerable word to say about the facial expression alone. as though the whole body, its posture and placement were summed up to speak to that face

nagel-angel, i should like to give you your due when you suggest that Seated Man is not a self-portrait by patrick. i know next to nothing about the artist. some insight from yourself, Todd at tbfa, the video, the work. so perhaps it is not a physical portrait. but how about a character portrait? patrick was advanced enough to merit a character portrait above a physical one, for which he might have been too shy to make even if well commissioned. when i have watched the video by tbfa (well, now tbfa), i see Seated Man in patrick's demeanor: calm, cool, passive, easy, simple, modest. and more along that line, whatever that may be. but this is hardly sufficient to base a character self-portrait. so until there is more, i would agree with you, that Seated Man is not a self-portrait. i could see, though, how fans would want it to be; it is a beautiful piece of art. but there is still patrick's estimation of the female

do you think the changes to the hair between the original and the graphic corrections?

Quote    Reply   
Remove this ad

#4 [url]

Nov 16 14 1:37 PM

Seated Man

I have the Original on Board, and for security reasons, had not seen him in several years.  So, after reading this chain, I pulled him out and took a good look.  He's just like an old friend.  Someone in here said, "Pensive man"....not bad.  This guy is my favorite. 


Quote    Reply   

#5 [url]

Nov 19 14 11:41 AM

I would add to my critique... the heel hooked just right on the corner of the pedastal provides an anchor for the arms and legs, making them a foundation upon which the upper body is able to relax back from and into a feeling of comfort and assurity. it is an excellent graphic portrayal of balance of body, and there from it creates character for the whole piece of art. the meaning of that relaxed body speaks well to the strength of the character portrayl in this graphic art.

Cheers to you, Craig, on having the original.

Quote    Reply   

#6 [url]

Nov 25 14 1:46 PM

Thanks.   I have gotten away from posting much over the past few years.   Is this website still the "go to" site for all discussion of Nagel works?   I emailed Nagelite and didn't hear back from him.  I thought he was the mod on this site?  

Quote    Reply   
Remove this ad
Add Reply

Quick Reply

bbcode help