About Nathan Sawaya
Nathan Sawaya was born in Colville, Washington and raised in Veneta, Oregon. He attended New York University. Sawaya lives and works between his two studios located in New York City and Los Angeles.
Since his first solo exhibition, Sawaya’s artwork has grabbed the attention of art critics and pop culture enthusiasts alike. His artwork has been shown in major art institutions throughout the world, and held in the collection of both prominent private and public collections.
Sawaya was the first contemporary artist to ever take LEGO into the art world as a medium. His work is obsessively and painstakingly crafted and is both beautiful and playful. Sawaya’s ability to transform LEGO bricks into something new, his devotion to scale and color perfection, the way he conceptualizes the action of the subject matter, enables him to elevate an ordinary toy to the status of fine art. His unique sculptures and renowned touring exhibition, The Art of the Brick, continues to inspire creativity as well as break attendance records globally.
Nathan Sawaya is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, recognizing his artwork and cultural achievements. In 2014, with the belief that “art is not optional,” Sawaya founded The Art Revolution Foundation, for the purpose of making art a priority in our schools and our homes. He has been a speaker at Google Zeitgeist, TEDx, Yahoo! and at the Clinton Library.
“Sawaya is a surrealist mash-up of forms and artists. Imagine Frank Lloyd Wright crossed with Ray Harryhausen, or Auguste Rodin crossed with Shigeru Miyamoto, and you start to get a sense of where Sawaya is coming from.” – Journalist, Scott Jones.
About the Art of the Brick
The Art of the Brick is a global touring exhibition rated by CNN as one of the world’s “Must See Exhibitions.” These are the first art exhibitions to focus exclusively on the use of LEGO bricks as an art medium and artist Nathan Sawaya has taken it to new heights.
This award-winning artist has multiple unique exhibitions created solely from standard LEGO bricks often with several new sculptures created specifically for each exhibition. Each show has countless colorful LEGO pieces which Sawaya has transformed into whimsical and awe-inspiring creations.
Sawaya’s ability to transform this common toy into something meaningful, his devotion to spatial perfection and the way he conceptualizes action, enables him to elevate what almost every child has played with into the status of contemporary art.
“These works are very personal to me, since they reflect my growth as an artist as I strove to discover my creative identity,” said Sawaya. “The museum exhibition is accessible because it engages the child in all of us while simultaneously illuminating sophisticated and complex concepts. Everyone can relate to the medium since it is a toy that many children have at home. But my goal with this exhibition when it first debuted in 2007 was to elevate this simple plaything to a place it has never been before.” (Nathan Sawaya)
Gabriella Ruggieri for 1blog4u
NIKE OF SAMOTHRACE – NIKE DI SAMOTRACIA
numero di pezzi/brick count: 5.646
“Nike was the Greek winged goddess of victory. In this sculpture, she stands on the prow of a sculpted ship. The sculpture was originally part of a fountain. It may have commemorated a naval victory and dedicated by the people of Rhodes. The sculpture dons a long chiton that falls to her feet, held in place by a belt below her chest.
The sculptor placed great detail il the fabric’s flow and the detection of her figure beneath the sheer lines of the fabric. The folds create shadows that give the feel of wind and movement. Her unfastened thick cloak blows back, pushing against her figure from the wind. Her feet were sculpted separately from the original sculpture’s body, and have been lost. The lines of her composition show the progression in sculpting the human figure in motion.
The wings are almost horizontal and her hips and shoulders face the viewer, while the right shoulder it raised suggesting that the right arm was lifted into the air. The sculpture may have also held a wreath or a trumpet in her right hand.
For the brick replica version, I decided to reduce the scale of the sculpture to one third of the original. The great wings that extend horizontally from the body of the sculpture proved to be a difficult engineering task, and I feared their weight would topple the sculpture if I built it at the actual size of the original“. (Nathan Sawaya)
Dimensions: 245 cm
Date: 180 BC
GREAT SPHINX OF GIZA
numero di pezzi/brick count: 2.604
“The Sphinx is a mythological creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. Located on the Giza Plateau, bordering the Sahara, the largest Sphinx sculpture is the Great Sphinx of Giza which guards the Great Pyramids of Giza on the bank of the Nile River. The head of the Great Sphinx is believed to be the pharaoh Khafra of the 4th Dynasty (ruled 2258-2532 BC). Khafra was also the pharaon who commanded the building of the Second Pyramid at Giza. The Great Sphinx is the largest monolith statue in the world, as well as the oldest monumental sculpture. The nose of the front of the face is missing, having fallen off or been destroyed hundreds of years ago.
For the brick replica version, I decided not to do a life-size replica of the Great Sphinx. However, if you were to place a “LEGO Minifigure” next of this brick replica, it would be proportional to a real person standing next to the real Great Sphinx. I wanted to capture the sandy look of the original Great Sphinx which worked with the brick colour and the various striations in the body of the brick version“. (Nathan Sawaya)
BOB, JANIS and JIMI
numero di pezzi/brick count: 1.180, 1.070, 1.203
64×64 cm (each)
“This is a portrait of a musician named Bob Dylan. This portrait, along with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, were created for an American exhibition in 2011. It took less than a week to create“.(Nathan Sawaya)
numero di pezzi/brick count: 7.695
“As an attempt to inspire kids to explore music, I created this life-size cello completely out of LEGO bricks. Although it is the exact size as a real cello, please don’t try to play it: it might look like a cello but it sounds like LEGO!” (Nathan Sawaya)
numero di pezzi/brick count: 2.253
“It sounds kind of corny, but it really is cool to hold the whole world in your hands. Spin it round and where do you land? Spheres are a real challenge to create in LEGO. Mastering how to create spheres out of LEGO bricks was an important step in my artistic development“.(Nathan Sawaya)
88x60x38 cm numero di pezzi/brick count: 9.957
88x48x38 cm numero di pezzi/brick count: 9.147
88x53x38 cm numero di pezzi/brick count: 10.305
“Celebrate difference. If everybody looked and was the same, it wouldn’t be a very interesting world, would it? So which shape are you? And which colour? The circle, square and triangle“. (Nathan Sawaya)
THE KISS – IL BACIO
numero di pezzi/brick count: 18.893
“Gustav Klimt was born in Vienna; his father was an engraver of gold and silver, which lead to his use of gold in his paintings. He was a prodigy and was chosen to go to the prestigious Vienna school od Art and Craft. By the age of 21, he opened his studio with his brother. He believed that art embraced more than painting, but life and everyday objects.
In the painting we see a couple embracing, their skin is mostly shielded by the ornate mosaic smocks. They kneel on a bed of grass and flowers, as he bends over to kiss her cheek and she tilts her head to the side. They both have flowers in their hair, recalling the wreaths worn by classic heroes. The background is beaten gold leaf. Klimt mixes geometric shapes, circles, squares throughout the painting, particularly on the fabrics the couple wears. This ornamentation adds to the symbolism, with the colourful motifs throughout. The painting has a certain timeless quality and is a symbol of love, as the two figures seem to float, oblivious to anything else.
A major challenge with this brick replica was how to ensure the two figures accurately embraced one another in a large three-dimensional form. I also had the pleasure of decorating both the front and back of their clothing. In order to achieve the gold leaf background, I used a dark tan brick colour that was similar in tone“. (Nathan Sawaya)
Artist: Gustav Klimt
Dimensions: 180 x 180 cm
Materials: oil and gold leaf on canvas
numero di pezzi/brick count: 10.980
Beside the statue are the artist’s words, “Swim against the current. Follow your path. Find the courage within.”
BLUE GUY SITTING
numero di pezzi/brick count: 21.054
Blue Guy Sitting has an (inviting) empty black chair beside him as people would naturally gravitate towards this sculpture to have a photo taken with him.
numero di pezzi/brick count: 22.590
“Loss, along with love, is one of the recurring themes in my art.
Here I’ve tried to capture it in a new medium, LEGO bricks.
This particular sculpture was inspired from a sad story I was told by a parent. After learning of the story, I began working on this sculpture right away, finishing it almost two months later“. (Nathan Sawaya)
numero di pezzi/brick count: 1.657
“Warhol was a master of pop art, and I wanted to pay homage to him by using a pop culture toy“. (Nathan Sawaya)
PARTHENON – PARTENONE
numero di pezzi/brick count: 30.201
“Parthenon is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, in Athens, Greece and is dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art.
Constructing one the actual size was obviously not an option, but I tried to capture the aesthetic and architectural lines that make this such an exceptional building“. (Nathan Sawaya)
Architect: Iktinos Kallikrates
Dimensions: 13,72 x 30,9 x 69,5 m
Materials: limestone and marble
Date: 438 BC
Location: Athens, Greece
DISCOBOLUS – DISCOBOLO
numero di pezzi/brick count: 5.821
“The Discobolus, or Discus Thrower, is one of the Greek’s most famous sculptural poses. The location of the original bronze sculpture is unknown, however, it is survived by several Roman marble copies attributed to the sculptor Myron. The figure is shown in an athletic pose and we, the viewer, seem to catch the athlete in motion, just about to throw the discus and release his energy like a compressed spring. Despite the tension of the athlete ready to unleash the discus, the piece has a balanced sense of calm and equilibrium which lends it to a “classical” style.
The muscles are flexed and strained to show the ideal athlete, adding to the comprehension of the human figure achieved by Myron. It is unclear which way his head originally faced as several copies have his head facing different directions.
The brick replica version required a bit of work to get the body engineered to balance properly. The tree trunk that sits at the base of the sculpture supports the pose of the athlete, as it does in the real marble sculpture. Although his arm is stable, the bricks had to be properly overlaid in order to keep the arm from collapsing“. (Nathan Sawaya)
Dimensions: 155 cm
Date: 450 BC
numero di pezzi/brick count: 18.509
“Masks are used by just about every culture on the planet. They keep things hidden and show only the face we want others to see. I built Mask as a reflection of revealing our true selves. So often we put on a different face and then can no longer identify our own self. Mask identifies the facade we hide behind“. (Nathan Sawaya)
numero di pezzi/brick count: 80.020
“This one of the largest sculptures I have ever made. It took an entire summer to build and nearly drove me crazy trying to make it work. After seeing so many kids flock to my forst solo exhibition, I wanted to give back something and create a sculpture that children would enjoy. What is better than a dinosaur?” (Nathan Sawaya)
–Nathan Sawaya http://www.nathansawaya.com/biography.html
–The Art of the Brick, Milano https://theartofthebrickexpo.com/milano/
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ph. Vaifro Minoretti