No one belongs together in unholy 80′s union more than Duran Duran and Patrick Nagel. One look at a Nagel print I think of Andrew McCarthy knocking back a Chi Chi after a solid game of Frogger wondering whether to go with the white denim or white sports jacket with the pastel polo…or maybe the pink tee?…

Patrick Nagel designed the cover to Duran Duran‘s American top ten (Australian #1) album RIO in his innovative trademark fashion – commonly described as a distinctive mix of art-deco and Japanese style woodblock.“The Nagel Woman” became something of a phenomenon in the 1980′s, primarily from Nagel’s work being regularly featured in Playboy magazine and patronage by film studios, fashion/music magazines and corporate clients like IBM.


Nagel’s process is one of creating more with less. He is often said to have started with a line drawing of a photograph then taken out elements he found unnecessary (Nagel figures often lack detailed digits and extremities) then adding large blocks of matte pastel and cropping the frame at a slightly skewed angle.

rio full art
An alternate Nagel cover for a 2001 re-issue.

nagel black teddy

Nagel was something of a contemporary art phenomenon in the 80′s – if you grew up in this era chances are you came across his art, or a derivative of it, without even knowing it. The squared eyes, pinks, puces, mauves (I swear to God he never used a primary colour – apparently Nagel used more Paynes grey than any other painter – for an excellent recollection of Nagel’s practices head over to The Art History Archive) off the shoulder poses, Brigitte Nielsen haircuts – it’s all Nagel.

If you want something to look like the 80′s, chances are you’ll borrow from Nagel – those of you who are familiar with the GTA Vice City artwork (you’re reading a blog about album covers, you’re probably supposed to be working, I’m sure you’ve never played a computer game) will notice Stephen Bliss’s homage in the awesome cover/booklet art from the game.


In a tragic, but morbidly humorous turn, Nagel (who apparently enjoyed his fair share of booze, cigs and fast food and hated exercise) suffered a fatal heart attack after a celebrity ‘aerobathon’. Thankfully he didn’t associate with the type of folks who might prop him up with sunglasses and run around pretending he was still alive, slamming his nuts into poles and pushing him from speedboats.

So who better to pair up with the 80′s biggest coke/glam mullet-fringe titans than the Toulouse Latrec of the skinny ties? Even Russel Mulchahy pulled a few Nagel moves in the video for Rio (pre – Highlander).

For those of you who really want to live like ’80′s guy’ – here is what I believe to be a reliable Chi Chi recipe – now go and conquer wall street.
1/2 cup ice
2 oz vodka
1/2 oz blue curaçao
1/2 oz cream of coconut
1/2 cup fresh or canned pineapple
scoop of vanilla ice cream
chunk of pineapple for garnish
Pour all ingredients into a blender.
Blend until smooth.
Pour into a chilled margarita or highball glass.
Garnish with the pineapple.
If the mix turns out too thick add juice; too thin add ice or ice cream.

The artwork was also used for the single cover of “Hungry Like The Wolf”

Duran Duran:Hungry Like The Wolf

Here’s a recent 2007 interview with Malcolm.

Design of the sleeve was done by Malcom Garrett of Assorted Images who also studied at the same school as Peter Saville.

I’ll leave you all with this Professor Farnsworth mashup.

Duran Duran:Rio Farnsworth