Home Magazine Glamour, excesses, danger, and consumerism with Tyler Shields.

Literally setting on fire the boundaries of what is acceptable to do in the name of art, Tyler Shields has earned a reputation as one of the most celebrated yet controversial fine art photographers. 

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American photographer, screenwriter, and director Tyler Shields has made a name for himself as one of the most celebrated and controversial fine art photographers.  Before the world knew Shields as the photo provocateur that he is today, though, he seemingly lived a life as complex and diverse as his pictures. As a child growing up in Jacksonville Florida Shields became a professional in-line skater and went on to compete in the X Games and win the world championship, as well as touring with skate legend Tony Hawk. 

Already used to being celebrated, it should come as no surprise that shortly after starting his photography career Shields became the youngest living artist to be auctioned at Sotheby’s. Countless auctions later Sotheby’s deemed him “the Andy Warhol of his generation.” Stating that “Shields has produced images that play with notions of the gaze, power structures, hyper-realism, iconoclastic-tendencies, and cinematographic practice”. His limited edition prints are some of the most sought-after images in the world, with a total of just 3 images ever made in each of his Available sizes. 


Figure 1. Tyler Shields, Ferrari Mechanic, 2022. Courtesy of Whistler Contemporary Gallery


Shields’ work is a type of ‘dark romance’ that scales the reach of image development in the age of Google Image searches, the Internet, and a near infinite source and access to moving-image making material and iconography. He is known for incorporating themes of consumerism, fantasy, excess, and eroticism in his work, weaving in references to Old Hollywood, glamour photography, fashion photography and other strong references to American culture. When in action behind the lens, he is known for photographing his subjects in dangerous and even life threatening situations: models running from planes flying feet over their heads, Ferraris and Birkins on fire, and a steak being dangled over a live lion’s mouth by a model.

At the start of his career, his idea to shoot celebrities outside of the studio doing lavish stunts was deemed to mean nothing by every magazine in publication. He has since worked with a roster of ranking members of Hollywood including Mischa Barton, Emma Roberts, Aaron Paul, Demi Lovato, Juno Temple, Shiloh Fernandez and more. His output involves various mediums from book publishing “The Dirty Side of Glamour”' in 2011, to a novel entitled “Smartest Man”, and a cluster of solo shows. Shield’s technical brilliance as a photographer has much more to do with the shift in focus from the fragility of the “celebrity photographer” to the output of the contemporary art medium. 


Figure 2. Tyler Shields, Rolls Royce*, 2020. Courtesy of Whistler Contemporary Gallery.


The Whistler Contemporary Gallery promotes distinctive Canadian and International contemporary emerging, mid-career and established artists. The gallery offers an exceptional selection of original paintings, multi-media work, glass and sculpture. The gallery has been in the art business since 1992 and works with first time and experienced buyers to build their collections. They are dedicated to serving their clients as well as their artists and are passionate about art and are committed to bringing quality pieces to his collectors.


Cover image: Tyler Shields, Ferrari on Fire, 2022. Courtesy of Whistler Contemporary Gallery​​​​​

Written by: Zara Colombo

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