Ai Weiwei Unveils LEGO Recreation Of Monet's Water Lilies At London's Design Museum - IMBOLDN
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Ai Weiwei's Water Lilies #1 Largest-Ever Lego Artwork

Ai Weiwei Unveils LEGO Recreation Of Monet’s Water Lilies At London’s Design Museum

A giant recreation by artist and activist Ai Weiwei in his new London exhibition.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has unveiled his latest LEGO creation at London’s Design Museum ahead of his major solo show, which opens on April 7, 2023. Titled Water Liles #1 the artwork is a homage to French impressionist Claude Monet’s iconic painting and is constructed entirely of LEGO bricks in 22 colors, comprising 650,000 studs of LEGO bricks, making it Ai’s largest LEGO artwork to date, spanning 50 feet in length.

The Design Museum’s exhibition, ‘Ai Weiwei: Making Sense,’ will be the artist’s first exhibition to focus on design and architecture, and will feature several works that capture the destruction of urban development in China over the last two decades. However, Water Lilies #1, offers an alternate vision, a garden paradise. The artwork probes notions of reality and artifice, and through it, Ai comments on contemporary modes of digital image consumption, and all that might be lost in the process.

In addition to Water Lilies #1, LEGO will feature heavily in the Design Museum show, most notably in Untitled (LEGO Incident), which will see thousands of LEGO blocks fill the gallery floor. Ai first used LEGO bricks as an art medium in 2014 when he created portraits of political prisoners. LEGO’s refusal to sell their products to him prompted public donations from around the world, which he used to create his art.

Justin McGuirk, Chief Curator at the Design Museum and curator of ‘Ai Weiwei: Making Sense’ describes Water Lilies #1 as a monumental, complex, and powerful work that embeds a more poignant narrative into the piece. He points out the dark portal on the right-hand side, which represents the door to the underground dugout in Xinjiang province where Ai and his father lived in forced exile in the 1960s. On the one hand, Ai has personalized it by inserting the door of his desert childhood home, and on the other, he has depersonalized it by using an industrial language of modular LEGO blocks. The exhibition runs until July 30, 2023.