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Slim Aaron’s Automotive Photography Might Be the Most Aesthetic Thing You See Today

The jetset legend photographed some of the most legendary cars.

Conner GoldenWriterSlim AaronsPhotographer

From behind the nicest, cleanest pair of rose-tinted glasses you can find, the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were some of the most glamorous times in modern history, at least from the perspective of art, design, and visual expression. Colors, curvaceous lines, and material excess defined these eras, especially when it came to cars. For relative youngsters like myself, it's often difficult to place modern classic superstars in their own time, only going off of what few blurry photos may be available.

For the better part of a half-century, photographer Slim Aarons captured the celebrity and jet-set lifestyle better than anyone. After a stint in Europe during World War II, the bon vivant decided "the only beach worth landing on is decorated with beautiful, semi-nude girls tanning in a tranquil sun." Armed with a cluster of cameras, a magnetic personality, and an unbeatable eye for framing, Aarons captured the rich and the famous doing, well, rich and famous stuff. According to Aarons himself, he cultivated an oeuvre built on "photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places."  

Luckily for us, some of his favorite subjects were of the four-wheeled variety. He often incorporated cars—both large and small, expensive and humble—into his portraits, usually accompanied by the proud owner. As far as automotive lifestyle photography goes, his stuff is pure magic. To prove it, we pulled a bundle of Slim Aaron's automotive photography out of the archive for your perusal.

A Typical Household in Palm Beach  

Alvin and Lilly Fuller proudly pose with their gorgeous blue Mercedes-Benz 190SL roadster. I've gotta find a jacket like that.

A New York Picnic in a Vintage Rolls-Royce

Seems like a casual riverside lunch to me.

Baron Guy della Faille d'Huysse and Baroness Francoise de Montpellier de Vedrin

Oh, and a yellow Triumph Spitfire. Good taste.

Automobile Designer Raymond Loewy Hits the Dunes

It's tough to be one of the most influential industrial designers of the 20th century.

A Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster and Polo at Cowdray Park

A nice afternoon on horseback.

Prince and Princess Trubetzkoy with a Mini Cooper

See that interesting wicker design? That's a Hooper Mini Cooper. Actor Peter Sellers commissioned coachbuilder Hooper to outfit a Mini with all the material niceties you might find in a contemporary Rolls. A few clones were created later, which is what I assume we're seeing here.

Fashion Photographer John Rawlings and an MG TD on the Beach

A life we should all be so lucky to live.