The best brick on the block

20 June 2013

The building blocks of life are back, and this time they’re life-size. Sculptor Nathan Sawaya’s new exhibition in New York – ‘The Art of the Brick’ – features more than 100 Lego statues, many made up of more than 12,000 individual pieces. For Sawaya, using Lego as a medium was a great way of bringing his art to the average person: “I’ve worked with many different types of material over the years, but I just thought about this toy from my childhood and how I could create large scale sculptures using just Lego bricks. The reaction has just been fantastic. Lego makes the art accessible. Kids and families see it and can relate because we’ve all played with Lego bricks at some point in our lives.” Invented in 1958, this is the latest example of Lego being used in ways the company may never have envisaged. Others include the vet who adapted Lego wheels to mobilise obese tortoises, and the Canadian students who sent a Lego man into space. Sawaya’s solid interpretations of Munch’s ‘The Scream’ and Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ might wow art critics but out on the high street, the popularity of Lego’s new Star Wars and Marvel Super Hero series’ mean the company is one of the few still defying the downturn. As the all-too-real construction industry continues to fluctuate, the Lego Group has reported profits and sales up 25 per cent.

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