Artists have created stunning images using oil paints, watercolors, charcoals and clay, but increasingly, modern artists are looking for new mediums. Enter the LEGO, the plastic building blocks many people remember from childhood. As LEGO toys have evolved over time, so too has the LEGO as the foundation for modern sculpture. Following are some of the artists who have turned the plastic blocks into masterpieces.
Sean Kenney, who has been creating LEGO art for over 30 years, bills himself as a “professional kid” and is one of only 13 artists certified by LEGO to build artwork on behalf of the company. Kenney’s work has been featured on television, in museums and in many major publications. He also sells his work to the general public.
Fun fact: Kenney’s biggest work to date was a polar bear that took 95,000 LEGOs to create.
Nathan Sawaya is probably the best known brick artist in the industry today. He also claims to be the first person to have his LEGO masterpieces accepted into the art world. In fact, his almost-life-size sculptures and oversized portraits are on display today in a number of museums and art galleries, and an exhibit of his LEGO masterpieces is currently touring museums in both the United States and Australia.
Fun fact: Sawaya’s biggest sculpture to date is a 20-foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, currently on display at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
Unlike Kenney and Sawaya, Henry Lim is not a full-time LEGO artist – yet. However, Lim, a music library assistant at the University of California-Los Angeles, so impressed the Hong Kong Science Museum with his work that it commissioned him to replicate M.C. Escher prints in LEGOs. Another of his works, a LEGO rendition of a Beatles album cover, has already been on display in a Finnish art museum.
Fun Fact: Music-lover Lim created a working harpsichord out of LEGOs.
A boy’s toy?
Most of today’s best known LEGO artists are men. That may be because in the past, the colorful bricks and specialty sets were made with boys in mind. However, LEGO has been working to diversify its appeal. For instance, it now offers its “LEGO Friends” collection, which features female figures.
LEGO has managed to stay relevant throughout the years, even with the evolution of video game technology. LEGO continues to pump out sets that have current movie- and television tie-ins to attract new audiences, and it has also added games, such as LEGO Creationary, to its lineup.
LEGO artists may also be shining a spotlight on the classic toy. When children see the incredible masterpieces that can be made out of these bricks, they realize that they, too, have the ability to create and build things out of these little pieces. In that way, LEGOs hold a unique place in the toy universe. It is a toy that is not only fun, but also helps children learn at the same time.
Holly blogs on behalf of Sears and other brands she trusts.