“The mouth is a gateway to...
Tyler Shields is a contemporary photographer based in Los Angeles. Commonly referred to as “Hollywood’s Favorite Photographer”, Shields is best-known for outrageous imagery including his famous series capturing a $100,000 Hermès Birkin bag set on fire.
Shields’ notoriety has made his striking work incredibly popular with collectors, and at ArtLife, we have over 30 of his provocative prints for sale. Explore our Tyler Shields photography collection, and make an offer today.
Shields was born in Jacksonville, Florida on 29 April 1982, and started his career as a professional vert inline skater. He competed in the 1999 and 2000 X Games, an annual ESPN extreme sports event, and toured with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk in 2003.
At 18, Shields moved to Los Angeles, directing music videos and capturing photos using his roommate’s camera, which he subsequently posted online. The artist was able to purchase a camera of his own and launch his photography career after selling an image he took of an empty closet in the wake of a breakup. The photo was purchased by an advertising agency, who also commissioned him to shoot an ad campaign.
Thanks to the power of social media, the rich and famous were soon directly contacting Shields for photo opportunities. As he put it: “The people who I was shooting weren’t famous but became famous. And famous people started wanting to shoot.” Lindsay Lohan reached out to him via Twitter in 2010, and Shields captured a series of violent images in which Lohan posed as a femme-fatale vampire, brandishing knives and guns in blood-splattered, seductive scenes.
As Shields’ career continued, he held his focus on controversial, celebrity subject matter. In 2011, critics claimed images of Glee actress Heather Morris with a bruised eye trivialised domestic violence, while he was chastised by both feminist groups and animal rights activists over photos of Mischa Barton posing with a slab of meat. The same year, Shields collected blood from 20 celebrities to paint a canvas in a show entitled Life Is Not A Fairytale, also featuring shots of Emma Roberts and The Vampire Diaries star Michael Trevino. Demi Lovato, Aaron Paul and Juno Temple are just a few of the other celebrities who have posed for Shields during his career.
Luxury brands have frequently featured in Shields’ photographs, with the incorporation of Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada symbolising how these labels have taken over contemporary popular culture. Hermès is perhaps the fashion house most synonymous with his work, with Shields constructing iconic images which feature their exclusive Birkin bag alongside dangerous wild animals like alligators and pythons. Shields’ then-girlfriend Francesca Eastwood also posed in dramatic shots, in which she used a chainsaw and set fire to the lavish accessory.
The photographer’s infamous reputation attracted further press attention in 2017 when he shot Kathy Griffin holding a mask of a bloody head resembling President Donald Trump. On top of mass public outcry, Trump himself denounced the act, as did many fellow celebrities. In spite of its divisive content, Shields reportedly had offers as high as $150,000 for an original print in the months after it was unveiled online.
Shields’ photography has been exhibited in prestigious galleries around the world including Maddox Gallery and Guy Hepner, while he has also created campaigns for the likes of Nike, Playboy and Harley Davidson. Furthermore, the artist has published books including The Dirty Side of Glamour (2013) and Provocateur: Photographs (2017) and made his feature directorial debut in 2015 with the action thriller Final Girl.
Shields continues to live and work in Los Angeles.
Considered the “Andy Warhol of his generation” by Sotherby’s, Shields has achieved global fame for his eye-catching photographs which capture power structures, hyper-realism and our iconoclastic inclinations. In fact, he even paid homage to Warhol in Pop Art, a piece combining the legendary artist’s famous iterations of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soup.
The artist says his photographs can be compared to the “transcendental clarity” seen in Carvaggio’s photo-like paintings from the 16th century, which abandoned or reincorporated rules and guidelines “to challenge the sensibilities of the time”. Shields aims to explore the intricacies of the modern human condition by honing in on powerful themes such as sex, death and fantasy.
Though famous faces often feature in his photographs, Shields insists that his work “isn’t about celebrity”. He instead chooses his subjects based on who is willing to actively participate in his art by injecting their own identity and experiences into his creation. He strives to force both subjects and viewers out of their comfort zones to challenge the modern constitutions of portrait photography, and capture America as a landscape of fluctuating meaning.
Shields is thought to have a net worth of $1 million, and his work has sold for huge sums at auction. Mouthful, a 12-photo collage of lipsticked mouths, was bought at almost $24,000 in February 2019. As one of the most daring and iconoclastic photographers working today, it’s no wonder his vibrant pieces are in such high demand, and we have an impressive selection of Tyler Shields’ prints for sale here at ArtLife.
Please contact us if you require any assistance regarding our Tyler Shields artwork and we’ll be happy to address any queries you may have.
“The mouth is a gateway to...