Monthly Muse: Slim Aarons

Posted by Elizabeth Williams on

Monthly Muse: Vacation Vibes with Slim Aarons

Vacations are seldom the dream escape that we all crave for. My family vacations are considered a success if we can get through the day/ week without a serious injury or argument.

But in those few golden moments of rest and relaxation, something magical happens.

Slim Aarons' photographs offer a nostalgic glimpse into this moment. Capturing the world the of leisure, while providing insights into fashion trends, and architectural styles prevalent during the 1950's and 60's, his photographs inspire a life of elegance and nonchalance.

Aarons invites the viewers to slow down and appreciate a fleeting moment of beauty and sophistication.

Slim Aarons (ironically) began his career as a photographer as a combat photographer during World War II. His experiences during this war profoundly influenced his later work in unexpected ways.

“He saw the pain and ravages of war,” says his daughter Mary Aarons. “But he also saw Paris and Rome and London. The war gave him opportunities that weren’t otherwise available.”

His goal during this tumultuous time was to "just get the story and get it out there!

In 1942, while at West Point, he met Hollywood director Frank Capra, who was working on movies for the military. Capra recruited Aarons to be a photographer for a new weekly military magazine, Yank.

When the war ended, he moved from Europe to Hollywood and set his sights on a different story, the lives of Hollywood elite.

Years later when given the opportunity to cover the war in Korea, he informed his editor that he was not interested in partaking in another invasion from the sea - and the only beaches that interested him had beautiful girls sunbathing on them.

His focus steered him toward the lifestyles of the rich and famous. His distinctive style emerged as he chronicled the lives of socialites, celebrities, and jet-setters against the backdrop of luxurious destinations around the world.

 

His photographs exude a sense of naturalness and intimacy, despite often featuring opulent settings and glamorous subjects.

 



Some of his most iconic images include scenes of Hollywood stars and socialites  lounging poolside in Palm Springs, enjoying cocktail parties in the South of France, and basking in the sun at exclusive resorts. His work not only captured the aesthetic allure of these places, but also offered a glimpse into the lives of the social elite who frequented them.

In the realm of photography, Aarons created an enduring visual narrative. His work not only chronicled a bygone era of glamour, but a unique perspective on the luxury of leisure.

My research on Aarons led me to think about the juxtaposition of his life's work and the struggle capture both beauty and tragedy while reconciling that they both exist.

In recent months many celebrities have come under fire for their ambivalence to the tragedies of the world, while participating in Galas and Fashion Couture Shows. And while I don’t have a solution for how we balance luxury with tragedy, I do know that the world seems “less full” when we try to diminish the extravagance that comes with success. Aaron’s work provides a glimpse into what is possible, with a quick click of his shutter, and not a second longer.

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