Mar 27, 2023, 9:30am EDT

Ai Weiwei’s largest Lego artwork is set to debut in London

Detail from Water Lilies #1, by Ai Weiwei. Lego Bricks. Photo courtesy of the artist and Galleria Continua.
Ela Bialkowska/OKNO Studio

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Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's largest Lego artwork is set to debut at London's Design Museum next month.

The piece, titled Water Lilies #1, is a recreation of Claude Monet’s impressionist triptych Water Lilies, and was constructed entirely out of 650,000 Lego bricks in 22 different colors.

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This work is not the first time that Ai has used Lego bricks for his art — but it is his largest to date at nearly 50 feet wide.

Ai’s version includes a dark portal on the right hand side, representing the underground dugout he lived in with his father, Ai Qing, while in exile in China in the 1960s.

Previously, Ai used Lego to create portraits of political prisoners. At that time, a mass order of Lego bricks was rejected by the company, leading to donations of the blocks to Ai from admirers around the world.

The London Design Museum will also exhibit another large-scale work from Ai called Untitled which will display vast "fields" of thousands of items spread across the gallery floor.

The exhibit, titled Ai Weiwei: Making Sense, will run from April 7 to July 30.

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In a press release, Ai explained that in Water Lilies #1 he attempted to "integrate Monet's Impressionist painting, reminiscent of Zenism in the East, and concrete experiences of my father and me into a digitized and pixelated language."

He added: "Toy bricks as the material, with their qualities of solidity and potential for deconstruction, reflect the attributes of language in our rapidly developing era where human consciousness is constantly dividing."


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