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Oct 23 12 11:24 PM

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While taking a look at the Nagel images I have found and saved over time in a folder, something came to my attention and I wanted to comment on the apparent lack of attributable objects in most of Nagel's paintings aside from the occasional bit of clothing, accessories or imposed geometric patterns which adorn his subjects. This makes sense since his process of painting was to strip down the image to it's basic form. While putting aside the occasional commercial illustration, there have been few objects represented which I found can be identified and attributed specifically in his regular body of work. Now by no means have I seen it all but among those images I found the Kawasaki motorcycle painting and the New York City painting including the Flatiron building otherwise there's just the odd hairdryer, telephone, toilet and shoe and hardly another attributable object in sight.

Which brings the focus to a chair featured in a couple of canvas paintings:

The Fledermaus chair by Josef Hoffmann was designed in 1907 for the Fledermaus Cabaret in Vienna. In one way to me this chair's presence makes sense as Hoffmann and other noted architects and designers of his era started to see a resurgence of interest by the public (around the time Nagel was active) which led to record auction sales and reproductions of these works in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Amongst some of the great secessionist artists, Josef Hoffman was an artist appreciated among artists and with that being said it doesn't surprise me that this chair ended up in a few of Nagel's paintings. Not only was this work the foundation of design which preceded and influenced the Bauhaus movement but also its popularity was found once again in late 70's and early 80's contemporary design. Now I can't say, because I was not there but I would like to believe that Nagel was particular about the image he conveyed in his work and that this chair was deliberately chosen for its presence and appeal to him as an artist. I wonder if it was a borrowed prop or a chair he owned? Here are two canvas paintings the chair appears in:

And this brings us again to another chair I believe was possibly represented in this Playboy painting which was used in a poster to advertise the release of the Playboy Portfolio:

This is the Cesca chair which some of you may be familiar with or may have even grown up with. It was designed in 1928 by Marcel Breuer the Bauhaus teacher and student and has seen production in some regularity since it's early days being as popular as it has been. Once again this was in heavy production in the 1970's and 80's though I can't say whether this was the actual chair form represented in the Playboy painting but even with the back eliminated from the image the shape of the arms are remarkably similar. 

I hope I haven't bored everyone out of their minds but I couldn't help but address two of my greatest loves/obsessions together in the same place so thanks to the decorative arts (furniture) and fine arts (Nagel) and all the informative posts by all of the awesome people that keep this forum going if I haven't lost you on this long, dorky rant by now. :)

Please feel free to fire away if you have anything you want to add.

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#1 [url]

Oct 24 12 6:39 AM


Incredible, particularly for the first one!!!  It makes me want to get one of those chairs!!!

The second match is not quite as compelling to me since there is a metal under-piece not in the painting and she looks to me to not be sitting, but other options for what those arm rests actually are don't make any sense.  (e.g.  If she is standing and leaning against the wall, then what the heck are those two bars?  They end right there in her palms. Frankly, your option makes more sense than any other I can think of.

It would not be as much fun as trying to figure it out ourselves, but maybe Nagelite could ask Barry Haun since he should know the details for the second painting as he owned the original for many years and was likely there when it was created.

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#2 [url]

Oct 24 12 8:53 AM

The Fledermaus Chair. I too now along with N-A will be looking for one.

You didn't bore me in the least!!! I like these images with the chairs and now will see them slightly differently. It's nice when Nagel used an object to show a woman's power (at least the second image exudes that for me) or when he used it to show playfulness like the "N" image with the telephone and a woman smiling, something else he rarely allowed (a smile).

As for the second image, I believe you might be right, but another fun idea is she is standing and resting during her workout set inside a veritical knee raise machine. (I always pictured her working out since she was wearing a bikini type bra and headband).

It's fun to wonder. Thanks for your lovely post.


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#3 [url]

Oct 24 12 10:53 AM

considering the second image with the fledermaus chair: the clothes the nagel woman is wearing, her body pose and the look in her face, i would speculate that nagel intended the chair as a substitute for a pole

right or not, i would agree with you "that Nagel was particular about the image he conveyed in his work", considering how his usual m.o. was to minimize

although 1907 predates the sunrise of the 2nd decade art deco movement in france, the design of the fledermaus chair is still art deco and maybe a reason why patrick chose it

the strict limit of color (white) and rather lack of color (black) in the chair also directs attention to the lines of the chair, consistent with the style patrick chose to portray the nagel woman

is a good thread, mmmike! it gives insight into patrick's style and therefrom an understanding we admirers can better appreciate his work

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#4 [url]

Oct 24 12 9:39 PM

nagel-angel and swimmersgirl I agree, I would love to have one of these chairs. I guess we will have to keep an eye on the auctions.

Here is a gorgeous white and black example which sold at Christie's for nearly $2000 in 1999. Ouch.

NA while I do agree with you about the metal underpiece in the second example I'm also keeping in mind all of the details Nagel has removed from his paintings which included collars, folds and extra lines as he saw fit but who really knows (except maybe Barry) any which way that poster image is still one of my all time favorites and it was actually the first Nagel I saved up and bought when I was 14. I still have it to this day! :)

Thanks waywardtom :)  I often feel the need to question things and find out as much as I can, even if I don't always get the answers :)

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#5 [url]

Nov 3 12 6:52 PM

OK, here is the image that ties the Cesca chair to Nagel's work. I knew I remembered seeing it somewhere. This may link the image shown above to the same chair as well but you can judge for yourselves. 

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#6 [url]

Nov 3 12 7:25 PM


That's a great image...Thanks for sharing. Furniture is getting sexier by the day on here.


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#7 [url]

Nov 3 12 7:31 PM

Thanks Swimmersgirl, I agree  :)

BTW does anyone have an image of the drawing above with the Cesca chair as a completed painting? If so can you post it here please?

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#8 [url]

Nov 4 12 2:00 PM


I want to thank you for posting these *really* interesting topics!  

I will check my storage on campus.  Unfortunately I do not recall seeing the final painting of this one, .

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#9 [url]

Nov 4 12 9:56 PM

Thanks NA, it would be wonderful to see and thank you for the compliment. I'm sure I speak for many of us when I say it's all for the love of Pat's work.

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#10 [url]

Nov 19 12 11:07 PM

Continuing on this topic here is another image which features Marcel Breuer's Cesca chair. This was scanned from "The Tomorrow Show" a Playboy article from January 1981 showcasing 5 different fashion designer's looks for the season featuring illustrations by Patrick Nagel.

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#11 [url]

Nov 19 12 11:38 PM

I actually have that issue of Playboy, which is collectible itself because it features the John & Yoko Lennon Playboy Interview.  This particular issue is loaded with Nagel illustrations.  Besides the normal Playboy Advisor and incidental drawings, it contained a mutli-page fashion spread -- this was its first page.

Rob Frankel

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