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One of Japan's leading graphic designers and art directors since the 1960s, Nagai trained at theTokyo National University of Fine Arts in scultpure but left in 1951 to work as a graphic designer for the Tokyo Spinning Co. in Osaka. Starting in 1960, he worked for the Nippon Design Center, serving as its president and later as director. By the early 1960s, he had developed a personal style of abstract, geometric, linear forms and patterns that create surreal landscapes. This style appeared in posters for Nikon; GQ magazine; and his freelance work of the 1970s and early 1980s. By the late 1980s realistic elements entered his design vocabularly. There have been several retrospective exhibitions of his work, the most recent at the Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art in 1990.
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