Every LEGO block tells a story, so give yourself more than enough time to study the Masters on display in The Art of the Brick exhibition at Discovery Times Square Museum. New York-based artist Nathan Sawaya clearly put his heart into this meticulously crafted collection of LEGO sculptures, transforming a common toy into something beyond belief. The exhibit runs through Jan. 5, 2014.
"Some of it will harken back to my earlier works of body forms ... but I also wanted to take on art history and some of the Masters," Sawaya tells Tania Fuentez Media shortly after leaving the museum this week. "This exhibit is the largest I've ever done and the largest solo LEGO art exhibit ever. It's a great way to get kids and families into the art world."
Sawaya (pronounced suh-WHY-uh) has single-handedly taken the popular LEGO brick to a new level since debuting his exhibition in 2007, touring North America, Asia and Australia. The Art of the Brick recently opened to rave reviews at Times Square, fascinating visitors with more than 100 original pieces _ some life-sized, never-before-seen 3-D creations and mosiacs such as the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Great Sphinx of Giza. This summer, other LEGO exhibits will open in Tel Aviv and Shanghai.
"I stopped several times for several kids asking about the sculptures," Sawaya said following a recent Discovery museum tour. (And, I can imagine his delight in sparking this much interest about the Old Masters such as da Vinci and Vermeer). He's happy knowing that for some children, this will be their first introduction through LEGO. "It's so relatable because they've played with it," says Sawaya, who has more than 2.5 million colored bricks in his New York and Los Angeles art studios.
“These works are very personal to me, since they reflect my growth as an artist as I strove to discover my creative identity," he shares on his website. "The museum exhibition is accessible because it engages the child in all of us while simultaneously illuminating sophisticated and complex concepts."
In case you were wondering, 'LEGO' abbreviates two Danish words, "leg godt," meaning "play well." Carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen introduced the original wooden toy in 1932. And, the rest is history, sparking the imagination of millions.
Sawaya admits going through a short period of builder's block, but "the great thing about my job is that I'm an independent artist ... people contact me with ideas that always keep it interesting." And, as awareness grows, so do the "way-out" requests for life-sized cars, boats even LEGO versions of celebs.
Of course, Sawaya chuckles, "I don't take them all on."