A Glimpse into the Glamour of the Past

The Odd Piece presents the work of American photographer Slim Aarons, exhibited for the first time in Dubai.

Curated by Bebe Leone in collaboration with The Getty Images Gallery in London.



Best known for his iconic images of ‘attractive people in attractive places doing attractive things’, Slim Aarons (1916-2006), the photographer of the rich and the famous, documented with his camera a bygone era of carefree, glamorous living.


Thanks to his hands-off intimacy, he established a special bond with his subjects and was granted privileged access to their private and intimate spaces. He was one of the first to employ a style of portraiture described as ‘environmental photography’.


The subjects would be seen in their milieus - their gardens, their offices, their living rooms, with their books, often with their pets.


By photographing them in their natural surroundings, Aarons was able to depict a unique portrayal of society and lifestyle after World War II and throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s: a closer look at the life of the elite.


A closer look into their houses and stunning interiors, at their clothes and adornments, at their inner circle and sophisticated gatherings. Aarons was able to document rarefied events and penetrate enclaves that were inaccessible to many: one of his most famous images, Kings of Hollywood, captures a moment between four Hollywood superstars, Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper, and James Stewart engaged in a frivolous conversation at Romanoff’s during New Year’s Eve in 1957. The image is representative of an era: it screams glamour and charm; it celebrates a star system that was experiencing its most glorious time. But it also tells a story: of four friends, on ‘top of their glittering world’, at ease with one another, having fun on a night out. And here is Aarons’ strength: the ambivalence of his portraits, authentic social commentaries on one side, intimate stories of ‘not so ordinary’ people on the other.