Nathan Sawaya’s LEGO Art: More Than Just Another Brick in the Wall

Nathan Sawaya is a New York-based artist whose sculptures are strikingly lifelike and surrealist at once.  His current show is touring North American museums and features over-sized sculptures that the artist composed exclusively of LEGO building blocks.

At the most recent WIRED + Marriott Culturazzi series event, I had the pleasure of speaking with Nathan Sawaya who shared his art with event guests.  The theme was inspiring the new generation of travelers through art and design.

He graduated from NYU and rediscovered LEGO.  Yes, that LEGO–the toy building blocks that are the foundation of many dreams of children the world over…and not just would-be architects and builders.

“At first, galleries kind of scoffed at the idea of creating art out of LEGO, but I’m happy to report that, years later, galleries are knocking on my door because they’ve realized there’s some relevance to creating art out of LEGO.”
In Sawaya’s hands, the brightly colored bricks take on surreal, organic, 3-dimensional forms such as red-tailed hawks in flight, running bath water, and over-sized human figures including Atlas balancing the world atop his shoulders.
“And that’s really the magic of these sculptures,” he says, “seeing how these tiny little rectangles become a human form, for example.”  One of Sawaya’s largest sculptures is a Tyrannosaurus rex that is twenty feet long.
Today, Sawaya works exclusively in LEGO.  His New York studio is filled with more than 1.5 million bricks in only the standard-issue LEGO shapes and colors.  So, theoretically, anyone of us could attempt to make these magnificent creations at home in our living rooms.  That is, if we had Sawaya’s top-secret recipe for the glue that holds his sculptures together.  The artist claims that the concoction is comprised of a mixture of goat’s milk and elf tears.  Good luck getting your hands on an elf this time of year!  I’m sure they’re all very busy right now—perhaps packing up boxes of LEGO to deliver to all the good girls and boys.
Sawaya’s art is currently touring North American museums in a show titled, The Art of the Brick; it’s the only exhibition of its kind focusing exclusively on LEGO as an art medium.  For more information on Sawaya:  Sawaya’s tour, dates and locations can be found on the Art of the Brick.
Photo Courtesy:  Nathan Sawaya
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11 Replies to “Nathan Sawaya’s LEGO Art: More Than Just Another Brick in the Wall

  1. I loved his exhibition when we were in Melbourne – such a talent (and possibly the best job in the world). Currently on exhibition in Singapore too, I believe, but finishes before our arrival in April 🙁

  2. Ann… Love this article.. I have two little kids (10 boy,7 girl) and they both LOVE legos. Each year I take them to the brickcon show in Seattle. It is truly amazing what people create. Just another creative outlet for people.

  3. Love these stuff. Absolutely amazing!

    There’s another guy that does lego art (portraits). His name is Dave Ware.

    I have finally made it and came over to visit your blog…

  4. My 6yo son has about a billion of them and you can pretty reliably find me in his room on Saturday mornings building something awesome 🙂

  5. Love Nathan Sawaya’s Lego art! I think there’s a happy childhood connection many of us feel about Legos and from seeing our own children’s playtime creations. I hope he comes to New Orleans soon!

    1. Hey Joyce,

      Yes, I remember playing with LEGOs with my three young brothers. I would love to see more of his art work in person.

      Thank you for sharing,

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