Over the course of a career lasting half a century, Slim Aarons (1916-2006) portrayed high society, aristocracy, authors, artists, business icons, the celebrated and their milieu. In doing so, he captured a golden age of wealth, privilege, beauty and leisure that occurred alongside—but quite separate from—the cultural and political backdrop of the second half of the Twentieth Century.
For sunbathed opulence and slice-of-life, candid beachside glamour spanning an impressive half-century, the work of American photographer Slim Aarons (1916-2000) is in a category all of its own.
These colourful images of the rich and famous, as well as photographs of surfers, yachters and sunworshippers throughout the second half of the twentieth century, include scenes featuring Hollywood royalty, giants of the business world and tableaus from the wealth hotspots of Europe.
Aarons once described his photography as centring around “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places”.
His work touches all things aspirational within the beholder, while the arrangement and content of many of his images offer a modern response to renaissance portraits of the affluent - rejecting stiff and haughty poses for natural, relaxed placement that still enables elegant and aesthetically pleasing composition.
The quality of natural sunlight and the vibrant, intelligent colour palettes seen throughout Aarons’ work are signatures that render him an unmistakable craftsman who has transitioned easily from the field of contemporary photojournalism to a giant of “retro” photographic art.
THE ARTIST: SLIM AARONS ORIGINAL PRINTS
Slim Aarons - born George Allen Aarons - worked first as a military photographer, receiving a Purple Heart, before becoming a photographic journalist in post-war America.
Aarons kept his background as a low-income Jewish immigrant raised in the East Side of Manhattan a secret for much of his life to successfully integrate with his more privileged subjects.
Based in California, Aarons had access to some of the most glamorous locations known to man. He prioritised capturing the rich and famous in everyday circumstances - most famously relaxing by their pools - and refused to use a makeup artist or stylist to avoid any sense of the artificial.