Now, I would argue that LEGO blocks have been a valid art medium for a long time. That said, Sean Kenney, Alex Kobbs, and Nathan Sawaya have absolutely blown away what I thought was possible using the venerable LEGO brick.
The three artists have been featured on PBS’ Off Book, a program that showcases new and innovative approaches to art. The works of Kenney, Kobbs, and Sawaya more than qualify.
Kenney has been busy creating large-scale mosaic portraits and sculptures out of LEGO bricks. A lot of LEGO bricks, at that – Kenney’s traveling exhibit features 27 sculptures of plants and animals that use an unfathomable 500,000 LEGO bricks. That exhibit, which features an 8 foot tall sculpture of a hummingbird feeding on a flower, is popping up in botanical gardens across the nation, which Kenney hopes will get kids more interested in what nature has to offer.
Kobbs is a stop-motion animation enthusiast. Using LEGOs as a medium for stop-motion animation is far from new, as a trip to YouTube will tell you, but you’d be hard pressed to find any better examples than what Kobbs has to offer. Bricks of War is maybe the greatest use of LEGOs I have ever seen – a brilliant and hilarious recreation of Gears of War in LEGO form.
Sawaya, whose art we’ve featured on the site before, opts for the austere, creating powerful sculptures that bring a surprising amount of gravity to the room – as Sawaya himself points out, it’s easy to forget that you’re viewing something built of LEGOs. His sculptures in the video below are surreal and impressively thought-provoking – needless to say, it blows away anything 13-year-old fortress-building me ever dared to imagine or create.
The most powerful statement of the video might just be the sum of all three parts. You couldn’t find three artists more different in style and motivation than Kenney, Kobbs, and Sawaya, yet they are all able to use the same LEGO bricks to perfectly create the pieces of art that they’ve imagined. It’s a testament to the longevity and potential of one of the most revered children’s toys of all time, to the point where calling the LEGO brick a children’s toy seems inappropriate.