BETWEEN SLIM & NONE: HOW TO COLLECT SLIM AARONS’ MID-CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHY

The best advice in buying art? Buy what you love. With all the choices in galleries in the city and beyond, the task can feel a little daunting. So, until you see a piece that you truly can’t live without, why not collect photography? In fact, why not collect Slim Aarons photography, asks our photography lover Lance Avery Morgan? The pieces, like masterful works of art, are cool, bright and terminally optimistic. Plus, many of Aarons’ greatest vignettes are available nearby, as seen here, at mid-century style store Jonathan Adler.

We all know that Slim Aarons, the acclaimed mid-century photographer is a legend. He captured be the palmy and balmy. The cool crowd of the 50’s through the 80s. You know them as The Jet Set, The Horsey Set, The Fast Set, and The Smart Set, to name a few.

Aarons caught the rich and rich at heart in their native element, usually basking in sun by the swimming pools at some of the world’s most stylish villas and hotels. Aarons, a Purple Heart-decorated WW II veteran said, “Combat had taught me that the only beach worth landing on was ‘decorated with beautiful’ and semi-nude girls tanning in a tranquil sun.”

My friend Nancy Holmes, who was one of the first American models in Paris after the war and also dated famed photographer Frank Capa, knew a thing or two about working with the camera. She also worked with Aarons at Town & Country and Look magazines when she was an editor. She told me, “Slim was the greatest. He loved people and his loved of them showed through every photograph he took.”

The secret to his success? People, plain and simple. “I knew everyone,” he said in an interview near the end of his life. “They would invite me to one of their parties because they knew I wouldn’t hurt them. I was one of them.”

Aarons never used a wardrobe or make-up stylist, and always used natural lighting. The clothes, the finest of the era, are bright and cheerful. Maybe that’s part of their timeless appeal, the naturalness of it all. He would take grand people in grand settings and make them approachable. Discovering a Slim Aarons photo is like finding photos of your parents before they were born and thinking, gee they sorta look like movie stars back then.

We like his coffee table books, too:  Having Wonderful Time, Once Upon A Time, A Place In The Sun, Poolside, La Dolce Vita and his latest, Women. Aarons had some bon mots about his storied career that’s captured in these tomes:  I photographed attractive people who were doing attractive things in attractive places. That’s an understatement. He also shared, When you photograph a lot of women, you get to know things. One that can apply to the all of us all the time, Good manners are never passé.

So, what are you waiting for? Start collecting Slim Aarons photographs and we’ll bet you can’t stop at just one to enjoy this timeless look at an endless summer.

[All photographs courtesy of Jonathan Adler]
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