Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fabulous Photographer, Slim Aarons

'Sundowners' two bikini clad holidaymakers, enjoying a glass of wine outside the Carlton Hotel Cannes 1958

Slim Aarons, born George Allen Aarons (October 29, 1916, Manhattan - May 29, 2006, Montrose, New York), was an American photographer noted for photographing socialites, jet-setters and celebrities.

At 18 years old, Aarons enlisted in the U.S. Army, working as a photographer at West Point and later serving as a combat photographer in World War II and earning a Purple Heart. Aarons said that combat had taught him that the only beach worth landing on was "decorated with beautiful, seminude girls tanning in a tranquil sun."

  Beach at Saint Tropez

After the war, Aarons moved to California and began photographing celebrities. In California, he shot his most praised photo, 'Kings of Hollywood', a 1957 New Year's Eve photograph depicting Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper and James Stewart relaxing at a bar in full formal wear. Aaron's work appeared in Life, Town & Country and Holiday magazines.

 'Kings of Hollywood' 1957

 Aarons never used a stylist, or a makeup artist.

 Aarons made his career out of what he called "photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places." "I knew everyone," he said in an interview with The (London) Independent in 2002. "They would invite me to one of their parties because they knew I wouldn't hurt them. I was one of them." Alfred Hitchcock's film, Rear Window, whose main character is a photographer played by Jimmy Stewart, is set in an apartment reputed to be based on Aarons's apartment. He died in 2006, and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 'Having a Topping Time', socialite Alice Topping, relaxing by the poolside in Palm Beach, 1959

I can't say I blame him for wanting to "photograph attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places" after some of the dreadful things he must have experienced during the second world war, I think his photographs are wonderful, they just jump out at you and are full of vitality and colour.  It must have been wonderful jetting round the world, hobnobbing with the rich and famous, photographing them for a living, what a life!  His photos helped to fuel the aspirational needs of the post war world and are a wonderful chronicle of the second half of the twentieth century.

'Five debutantes' 1955

Katherine Hepburn 1953

'Leisure and fashion' a woman watching a poolside fashion show at the Colony Hotel,Palm Beach Florida, 1961

'Sea Drive' Naussau 1967

'Park Avenue' Diana Vreeland with her husband Reed chatting to slim Hawks at a New Years Eve party, 1952

Mara Lane at The Sands, Las Vegas 1954

'New York Picnic', 1952

'Mans Work', Hugh Hefner surrounded by bunny girls at the Key Club, Chicago, 1960

Dolores Del Rio, Acapulco 1952

Trueman Capote in his apartment, Brooklyn Heights, New York 1958

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall at their Beverly Hills home, 1951

'Christmas Swim' Rita Aarons, Hollywood 1954

Marilyn Monroe sorting out her fan mail 1952

Babe Paley by the pool 1959

Courtourier Dimitri Kritsas posing with models at The Temple to Poseidon,1961

Cee Zee guest 1955

King of Hatters, Mr John, Fifty Seventh Street, New York, 1960

Joan Collins with a pink poodle, 1955

 Lady Daphne Cameron 1959

Noel Coward in Jamaica 1959

The Hon Desmond Guiness with his children 1963

Renata Boeck at the Regency Hotel, New York, 1964

Diana Dors 1955

'Look, No Shoes!' Mrs Atwater Kent Jnr, 1964

Donna Domitilla Ruspoli at Palazzo Ruspoli, Rome, 1960

'Penthouse Pool', Athens 1961

Lord Litchfield and friends 1968

 'Ladies of Leisure'

'Gossip by the Pool' 1970

Kaufman House 1970

 Louis Jourdan and his wife 1969

'Finding a Spot' Sardinia 1973 

Gianni Versace 1983

 Giacomo and Stefania Montegazza welcome guests arriving by boat at their villa on Lake Como, 1983

Donna Anna Monroy di Giampilieri, Villa Spedalotto, nr Palermo, Scicily, 1984

Veruschka Acapulco 1986

 Slim Aarons, relaxing!

 There are some wonderful coffee table books of his work available here


  1. I love his work. I have all of the books, and I look at them frequently. Great post, sweetie!

  2. Nice pictures, really colourful!!

  3. Absolutely stunning. I would love to know what "The Kings" are laughing at!

  4. Thank you for showcasing a great photographic artist.

  5. Most definitely one of the greats - have several of the books - always dependable for a little vicarious hobnobbing!

  6. Such very nice post,so special with all these photos...
    Thank you so very much for share:-)


  7. Great pictures, I love his work. The Capote picture and Joan with the pink poodle are particular favourites, although it's impossible to pick one! xx

  8. You made my entire evening...Truman, Babe, Slim, Marilyn...they're all here. Absolutely stunning photography. I am going to obtain his books - I love the realness of every one of these photos.

  9. Oh my word, what a stunning series of photos. I absolutely love the sense of colour, glamour and life that sizzles out of them. I'd kill to look that good lying by the pool!

  10. What a glorious set of phtos, Dash! You've made me feel all warm and fuzzy. My favourite has to be Joanie with the pink poodle, utter kitsch. xxx

  11. I always find such a wealth of pictorial history on your blog - Thankyou Dash! xo

  12. I love it that you share all these fabulous finds with us.


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