Slim Aarons (American, 2006)

Slim Aarons (American, October 29, 1916–May 29, 2006) was a photographer well-known for his portraits of the rich and famous. Born George Allen Aarons, he spent his youth in New Hampshire and New York before joining the army during World War II, where his photography career began. Working throughout his career with magazines like Life, Holiday, and Town & Country gave Aarons the chance to document the jet-set lifestyle of Hollywood stars, American and European socialites, and other celebrated figures. His approach was simple; using no make-up artists or artificial lights, he let the natural opulence of his subjects and their surroundings illuminate his lens. Typical scenes from Aaron’s photography take place in the sun, and in front of a pool surrounded by bathing beauties. This milieu is epitomized in the 1955 portrait of C. Z. Guest (1955), which shows the American socialite with her son and dogs in front of their Grecian temple pool in Palm Beach.

Aarons’ access to this elite group of subjects speaks to the genuine friendship and confidence he nurtured with his subjects. This familiarity helped him capture one of his most iconic images, The Kings of Hollywood, taken on New Year’s Eve in 1957. In the piece, Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper, and Jimmy Stewart personify the ideal man, dressed in formal tuxedos while smoking, drinking, and laughing; Aarons captured a candid moment between Hollywood’s leading men that defined an era. The 1974 publication of A Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of the Good life solidified Aaron’s place as a notable photojournalist and documentarian of the “good life” and was later followed by the publications of Slim Aarons: Once Upon a Time (2003), Slim Aarons: A Place in the Sun (2005), and Poolside with Slim Aarons (2007).

Aarons’ work has been shown in both solo and group exhibitions around the world at institutions such as the Torch Gallery, Amsterdam, in 2006, M+B gallery, Los Angeles, in 2007, and at the Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, in 2008. He died in Montrose on May 30, 2006.

Timeline

1916
Born in New York, NY
2006
Died in Montrose, NY

Exhibitions

2008
The Good Life, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY
2007
The show on Vegas, M+B, Los Angeles, CA
2006
Slim Aarons-the lost world, Torch Gallery, Amsterdam (solo)
2005
From the Source, Fashion Photographs, Corkin Gallery, Toronto, ON
2004
Pool Party, Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, NY
2003
Slim Aarons - Once Upon A Time, Staley, Wise, New York, NY (solo)
1995
Slim Aarons, Candace Dwan Gallery, Katonah, NY (closed, 2008) (solo)