By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lindsay Lohan on Thursday defended as "art" a photo of herself holding a gun to her mouth that sparked alarm about the former A-list actress whose life and career have spiraled downward in recent years.
Lohan, 23, said the photo that she posted on Twitter was from a shoot for a book about the dark side of glamour by celebrity photographer Tyler Shields.
Other photos on Shields' website show Lohan in high heels and underwear, smothered in fake blood and brandishing guns.
"It's not softcore porn hunny, it's called ART," the "Mean Girls" actress said on Twitter, responding to criticism on the micro-blogging website.
Lohan, who is currently on probation for 2007 drinking and drugs offenses, has been setting celebrity websites abuzz in recent weeks with stories and pictures of hard partying and erratic behavior.
The gun photos came a week after reports that Lohan was dropped from the movie "The Other Side" because producers were reluctant to finance the film with her in a lead role.
Last week, her estranged father brought police to her Los Angeles apartment and threatened to seek a court protection order like the one that handed control of pop star Britney Spears' personal and business affairs to her father in 2008, after Spears' was hospitalized when her life seemed to be near disaster.
Michael Lohan issued a statement earlier this week saying he "intends to do everything in his power to prevent Lindsay from becoming another Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson or Heath Ledger" -- all of whom died in tragic circumstances.
Lohan has fired back in a series of angry tweets, calling her father "the devil's advocate."
Still, her nights of clubbing have attracted the attention of producers on the TV show "Celebrity Rehab" which, according to celebrity website TMZ.com, offered her $1 million to enter treatment and be filmed undergoing counseling. Lohan refused.
"I don't know why I am such a target, but I think there's a big misconception of who I am as a person," Lohan told a Los Angeles radio station in an interview on Wednesday.
"I am doing a clothing line, I am starting a movie soon, I'm producing some shows. I've just been working a lot, and it's not a crime to go out and have fun with your friends."
Lohan shot to fame in 1998 as a cute, freckle-faced 11-year-old in the Disney movie "The Parent Trap". As a teenager, she scored a hit with 2004's "Mean Girls" and won fans among critics in 2006's "A Prairie Home Companion."
But her last movie, "Labor Pains," went straight to television in 2009, and she won a Golden Raspberry award for worst actress for playing a stripper in the 2007 low budget thriller "I Know Who Killed Me".
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)