LONDON — Remember the much-talked about images of Emma Roberts falling off a window and eating dollar bills? Or Lindsay Lohan posing with a gun while drenched in blood?
Behind them all was Tyler Shields, the Californian fine art photographer and filmmaker, who built a reputation for sharp, surrealist imagery featuring young Hollywood stars and exploring everything from violence, to eroticism, consumerism and fantasy.
A selection of his work, including photographs taken during lockdown outside a deserted Chateau Marmont, are going on sale at Sotheby’s online Friday until March 12. And they’re available to purchase immediately, not via auction.
“This collection taps into many of the themes that I’ve explored over the past 20 years. The latest works date to 2020-21, which I took during lockdown — a period that has weirdly focused me. The pandemic has made us all think differently, and these are photographs I may not ever have made had it not been for this time,” said Shields, pointing to the black-and-white images he took of a lingerie-clad model walking outside the Chateau Marmont.
The images were a happy accident, according to Shields, who was driving by the famous hotel and noticed its driveway empty for the first time in his 20 years of living in L.A.
“We took the shot, and afterward I noticed we were standing just 15 feet from exactly where Helmut Newton died. Without realizing, this was a perfect homage to him. We shot three pictures, but I knew within the first shot I had something magical. I never, ever do vertical photographs, I think there’s just two or three in my entire catalogue, but for whatever reason I did this shot vertical. There must have been an energy that made everything work perfectly for us. It was one of those moments when, if you’re never willing to go out and take a photograph without having an idea, you might never be surprised, and this image was a beautiful surprise,” said the artist, who regularly turns to Newton, Alfred Hitchcock or Irving Penn for inspiration.
The collection for Sotheby’s also includes some of his most recognizable work, such as “Prada Pop-Corn” or “Rolls Royce on Fire,” which features a collage of images documenting the progression of a Rolls Royce catching fire and exploding.
The former in-line skater has always had a flair for making the seemingly impossible come to life, from setting a Rolls-Royce on fire; making Roberts look like she could defy gravity and fly, or showcase a model dragging an alligator in his “Birkin Tug of War” photograph, dating back to 2012.
“All my photographs tell a story — they are a freeze frame of just a split second yet they provide a window into a world of fantasy, eroticism, violence, romance, you name it. For me, good art makes you think, great art makes you feel, and I hope that when anyone views my work, they’re aroused by some sort of emotion — whether that be shock, joy, love or even anger,” added the photographer.