Ai Weiwei Used 650,000 Legos to Create a Massive Ode to Monet’s Most Famous Painting
French painter Claude Monet famously used his own flower garden in Giverny as a source of inspiration for his Water Lilies series. Now, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has recreated his own version of Monet’s Impressionist masterpiece but using Lego pieces as his medium instead of brushstrokes.
Titled Water Lillies #1, the work will be part of Ai’s new show which opens on April 7 at London’s Design Museum—his largest in the UK in eight years and the only one to focus on design and architecture. The exhibition, entitled Ai Weiwei: Making Sense, will include the Monet-esque piece which comprises 650,000 Lego bricks in 22 different colors. The image is the largest Lego artwork Weiwei has created to date, spanning 50 feet long and occupying the entire length of the gallery wall.
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“These pixel-like blocks suggest contemporary digital technologies which are central to modern life, and in reference to how art is often disseminated in the contemporary world,” the museum said in a press release. In reproducing the image, Ai also added a “dark portal” to the right-hand side of his version, meant to represent the time he and his father lived in forced exile during the ‘60s.
Also on display will be another major installation. Known as Untitled (Lego Incident), all of the materials were donated to Ai by the public after the artist made headlines in 2014 when Lego temporarily refused a bulk order because they didn’t want the pieces used for political purposes. The resulting project will be making its international debut next month when it’s presented for the first time as a fully-formed artwork. Other highlights will include seemingly ordinary items that have clashing ideals such as a Han dynasty urn branded with the Coca-Cola logo, a hard hat cast in glass, and an iPhone that has been cut out of a jade axe-head.
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