Nathan Sawaya has done works of art for Donald Trump, Stephen Colbert, FAO Schwarz, Cocacola, and others. His medium? Legos. “I’ve tried to put it in a museum setting,” Sawaya told CNN of his chosen craft. Perhaps Sawaya is the next Roy Lichtenstein or Keith Haring?
Getting his start… well as a child, Sawaya is a former lawyer who won a nation-wide contest in 2004 to become LegoLand California’s “master model builder.” 6 months later he opened his own art studio in New York and has been displayed in museums across the country, including a solo exhibition at the Lancaster Museum of Art.
What should we think of Lego as art? What defines art? I think art inspires. Art evokes a response. Art makes us think about something in a new way. In his CNN interview Sawaya says:
“LEGO is something that almost everyone has played with at some point in their lives. I notice a lot of times when people go to my shows they want to touch the sculptures. I receive many e-mails from people who have seen my work and are then inspired to get down on the floor with their kids and build. In fact, the museum show also has a building area for kids who are inspired to build their own artwork after seeing my pieces.”
Other times, his work is light hearted. Take his Stephen Colbert, and comments “I had fun being a guest on The Colbert Report. Where else can you laugh a lot while being insulted at the same time? (Other than my dating experiences.)” or his interpretation of Starry Night, described on his website with the words “I used fairly innocuous colors to capture the essence of the painting. I have no idea what ‘innocuous’ means.”
The response seems overwhelmingly positive. A hearkening to pop art, and again Roy Lichtenstein with his quick rise to fame, and juxtaposed to Keith Haring and the struggle for acceptance in graffiti art. Lego is a brilliantly safe medium, a fascinating and intriguing draw on our childhood memories. Artist or no, we are all drawn in. The kid in all of us feels we’ve missed our call.
What do you think of his work?