Review: The Art of the Brick

by @edent | # # # | Read ~1,212 times.

While we were in New York City, we went to see Nathan Sawaya's The Art of The Brick.

The artist uses Lego as his medium, and the art he produces is breathtaking.

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The mixture of 2D and 3D is incredible.
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But there are aspects of the exhibition which left me with questions about the nature of art and creativeness. Take, for example, these statues (click to embiggen).

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They are magnificent to behold, and they are stunning "in the flesh", yet - to me - they seem like slavish copies. Perhaps it's the jagged nature of Lego, or perhaps it's the familiarity of such famous artwork, or perhaps it's in the nature of Lego that anything created with it looks like it came from a kit - but they really feel inauthentic to me.

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It feels like the artist has simply taken an existing 3D image and reproduced it bit-by-bit brick-by-brick. In effect, it's not creating a piece of art, it's building from a plan.

An excellent example of this is with the 2D art.

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It really looks like a 2D image has been downloaded from Wikipedia, then run through a PhotoShop filter, then pieced together. It just doesn't feel like the craftsmanship of an artist.
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I took Rembrandt's self portrait of 1657, shrank it, brightened it, and made it full sized again. There's a very low level of difference between mine and the brick version.
rembrant block

What strikes me, is that there is some amazing art within the exhibition. So much original, conceptual, and beautiful art.
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There are moments which brought forth incredible emotions within me.
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And others which left me utterly cold at the seemingly automated nature of production.
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Should art be difficult? There is a skill level required to produce, say, an oil painting - even if you are just copying the work of an old master. Perhaps Nathan Sawaya is copying existing art by eye - using his skill to convert paintings to bricks. I just can't escape the feeling that some - not all - of the pieces don't meet my rather woolly criteria for art.

The Art of the Brick is currently in Discovery Times Square and is well worth a look if you're in town.

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