Slim Aarons (favourites)

Slim Aarons (favourites)

Originally a photographer for US military magazine “Yank” during World War II, Slim Aarons (1916–2006) defined an era of American modernism through his lens – crafting a career “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places”. His knack for capturing the sun-dazed glamour and frivolity of the 50s, 60s and 70s is now a standard for top art directors, designers, decorators and stylists, more so since the publishing of his photo album “A Wonderful Time” (1974).

Guests at the Villa Nirvana, owned by Oscar Obregon, in Las Brisas, Acapulco, Mexico, 1972. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

He gained entry to villas, yachts and chalets by becoming one of the crowd – using his charm and charisma to gain unrivalled access to the worlds of America’s jet-set, capturing some of the most intimate and candid portraits of the 20th century. Gary Cooper, Mick Jagger, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and other members of high society not only welcomed him but requested his presence and pictorial service at their events and in their day-to-day lives.

He’s a neat example of being friendly to get ahead in life.

Why I admire his work

Aarons’ oeuvre evokes mid-century America; each photo is a literal snapshot in time from this bygone era. Using the natural beauty of his subjects as the focal point of his work ensnared this golden era of sartorial opulence and exclusivity. The elaborate, picturesque settings effortlessly reflect lifestyles whilst remaining sincere, raw and un-staged.

This welcomed, yet voyeuristic, style not only shifts us back in time – it presents itself as a golden ticket to a holiday in a Malibu penthouse, a private villa in Tuscany or a mid-afternoon tanning session on a beach in the south of France.

Holidaymakers in Armacao dos Buzios, Brazil, January 1983. (Photo by Slim Aarons)
Leonard Dalsemer and his family at their villa in Lyford Cay, New Providence Island, April 1974. (Photo by Slim Aarons)
A desert house designed by Richard Neutra for Edgar J. Kaufmann, Palm Springs, California, January 1970. Lita Baron approaches, while in the foreground (left) Nelda Linsk, wife of art dealer Joseph Linsk, is talking to her friend, Helen Dzo Dzo. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Getty Images)

They would invite me to one of their parties because they knew I wouldn’t hurt them. I was one of them.

Slim Aarons to The (London) Independent, 2002

Carmen Alvarez enjoying a game of backgammon with Frank ‘Brandy’ Brandstetter in a swimming pool at Acapulco, 1978.
Guests at the Villa Nirvana, owned by Oscar Obregon, in Las Brisas, Acapulco, Mexico, 1978. (Photo by Slim Aarons)

Ninety-nine percent of my contemporaries kept on reporting about the miseries and worries of the world after the war… But hell, someone had to do the other stuff.

Slim Aarons on turning from wartime photography to society portraiture.

Guests around the pool at Las Hadas, Manzanillo, Mexico, 1974. (Photo by Slim Aarons)
Pierre Vincent Marais and his wife Isabelle holiday with friends at their modern home on the island of Mustique in the Grenadines. The house was designed by their son Bertrand for easy entertaining and has views across to the island of Bequia, 1989. (Photo by Slim Aarons)
%d bloggers like this: