Even the most rabid fans would admit that “Fifty Shades of Grey” isn’t exactly highbrow art. But the film’s director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, comes from an art world far from E.L. James’s “mommy porn” novels.
Before her filmmaking career got off the ground with the 2009 John Lennon biopic “Nowhere Boy,” Taylor-Johnson was known as Sam Taylor-Wood, an acclaimed British photographer whose works have been displayed in some of the world’s finest museums, including the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art and Minneapolis’ own Walker Art Center.
Her “Five Revolutionary Seconds I” is in the Walker’s collection and showed there in a 1995 exhibition. It’s a panoramic shot of a roomful of people in various situations and states of undress — which is why we can’t show it here. (Looks like her previous work had the full-frontal nudity that was missing from “Fifty Shades.”) The piece is viewable on the Walker’s website.
The Walker also has her 2001 music video of Elton John’s “I Want Love,” starring Robert Downey Jr.
“She was definitely one of the more compelling of the Young British Artists to emerge from London in the 1990s making work based on the body and the human condition,” said Walker curator Siri Engberg.
So the connection between Taylor-Johnson’s photography and “Fifty Shades” isn’t as outlandish as you might think.
Besides, the artist herself has described the theme of her works as depicting “dysfunctional social situations.” Anastasia Steele would probably agree with that.