This weekend, Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge’s A LEGO Brickumentary opened in theaters — an ode to the colorful building blocks of our childhood that seem more popular than ever, today. While some are criticizing the film for basically being a 92-minute commercial for the toy company, it’s clear that a love for LEGOs persists regardless and has expanded beyond the nine to eleven age range. Artists are using LEGOs as architectural structures and more in their installations — especially public artworks that call to the crowds with their colorful design and nostalgia factor.
Australian collaborative duo Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro recreated the mysterious terrain of a Chinese region (in 500:1 scale) known as “Area 51,” which was discovered in 2006. It’s a desert area that has inspired numerous conspiracy claims.
Jan Vormann fills in architectural and structural gaps with LEGO blocks. The urban installation series is called Dispatchwork — a play on “dispatching” and “patching.”
Jaye Moon uses LEGOs and plexiglass to install miniature homes, text, and more on New York City streets. “For me, Lego bricks are the perfect objects for they are associated with architectural forms, as they are ready-made — based on industrial and mechanical functions,” the artist said in a 2012 interview. “These days we are trying to create universal living conditions that fit in anywhere — for anybody. The concept of Lego blocks is fitting for our mass-produced consumer culture, which I believe will continue to be our cultural trend in the future.”
Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei created the tribute installation series Trace with 1.2 million LEGO bricks to portray 176 political prisoners and exiles in the New Industries Building at the historical prison Alcatraz. Portraits of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Edward Snowden were included.
These life-size LEGO figures hugging trees at a Chelsea playground in New York City are part of the public art installation series Hugman, created by well-known LEGO fiend and artist Nathan Sawaya.
German artist Jan Vormann also patches holes with LEGOs, traveling the world for the last several years to look for gaps in walls and monuments.
Martin Heuwold (aka MEGX) created a functioning bridge in Wuppertal, Germany made from supersized LEGO bricks.
Artist Olafur Eliasson’s installation on Manhattan’s High Line was a collaborative project with 10 architecture firms, who were asked to create an imaginary structure for a fictional cityscape. The Collectivity Project was created from more than two tons of white LEGO bricks.
“LEGO bricks, generally thought of as toys, are a feasible option when people require tools for fast-pace prototyping and problem-solving in complex design problems in architecture as well as in other fields,’ says Irene Rissanen, Marketing Manager of LEGO Group in Finland. A group of architecture students created an art installation proving just that, creating intricate structures with the toy blocks.