Road Trip USA: Lego Art in New York City

On our road trip, we drove right through New Jersey to New York City.  Some might even say that’s the way it should be.   There are nice places in Jersey but we had too much we wanted to see in NYC.

On our must-see list was the Art of the Brick, an exhibition of artwork made out of Lego bricks by Nathan Sawaya, AKA the Brick Artist.  My son is a Lego fanatic and he was hung-ho about seeing how creative someone could get with Lego.

art of the brick logo

The artist, Nathan Sawaya, is the first person to use Lego as an art medium.  Having been a corporate lawyer, he decide to pursue a more creative career.  The exhibition is being shown at the Discovery Times Square Museum which is the former New York Times headquarters.  He uses the same Lego bricks available to everybody else in hopes of inspiring others to follow their creativity with their own Lego pieces.

Nathan’s works span a series of rooms with each room arranged thematically.  His most famous work is the man opening his chest to reveal bricks tumbling out.  Of course, all of his artwork is glued together to avoid museum mishaps.


I did not know that he had done many reproductions of famous paintings in Lego bricks.  For example, he did a replica of The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, the original of which is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Other famous works Nathan has reproduced in Lego include American Gothic by Grant Wood, The Scream by Edvard Munch and the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci.  I like that he did not limit himself to one genre, era, museum or nationality in choosing the ki works to copy.

I first learned adjectives through School House Rock.
I learned how to count to ten through Sesame Street.
I learned about gravity through my Slinky.
Imagine if a child learns about art history through LEGO!

Nathan Sawaya

Funny, I learned lots of things from Schoolhouse Rock and Sesame Street too.  I’m not perturbed if my children’s first experience with “Great Art” is in the form of Lego.  It’s no different from seeing copies in a book or doing a puzzle picture, both of which we have done.  I’m happy if they imbibe any form of culture.

Not limiting himself to paintings, Nathan also has done reproductions of famous sculptures.  For example, he has recreated The Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer by Edgar Degas which is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

degas ballerina

Presumably, in an effort to be politically correct, Michaelangelo’s David has been emasculated.  I was a little perturbed.  I feel that if you are going to replicate something, do the whole thing, especially since the original David is supposed to represent perfect beauty.

Michaelangelo's David

The Lego artwork also encompasses themes pertaining to Nathan as an artist.

At the end of the exhibit, we were encouraged to write our names on Lego bricks.  Once the whole exhibition itself is over, Nathan plans on creating a piece of artwork incorporating all of the visitors’ names.


We thought it was a fabulous exhibit and my son was really inspired to think of Lego more in 3D terms.  I hope the exhibit goes on tour to Europe.  Currently, the plans are only for touring in North America, Asia and Australia.  It’s definitely worth seeing.

For more photos of the exhibit, please see my Flickr album.

4 thoughts on “Road Trip USA: Lego Art in New York City

    1. nylonliving Post author

      yes! it must take a lot of time and patience to do one of these pieces. I can barely manage helping my son with one of those Lego city structures without wanting to pull my hair out.


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