Art, Biglaw, Career Alternatives

ATL Field Trip: Playing With LEGOs on a Saturday

‘Think,’ one of the pieces on display at Agora Gallery.

This past weekend, two of your ATL editors paid a visit to Agora Gallery in Chelsea. We wanted to see for ourselves the LEGO brick sculptures of Nathan Sawaya, the lawyer turned LEGO artist.

As explained in our profile of Sawaya, the NYU Law grad left Winston & Strawn for a $30,000-a-year job as a builder at LEGOLAND. Several years later, Sawaya is now a world-renowned LEGO artist, whose works sell for thousands of dollars.

So, what did we get to set our eyes on? And how did we like it?

KASH: Elie was out of town so couldn’t join us. Even if he’d been in town, though, he scoffed at the idea of LEGO art. He “doesn’t do art.” I do, and really enjoyed the exhibition, but I’m a bit skeptical about the idea of paying up to $11,500 for one of Sawaya’s pieces. I’d rather pay a couple of hundred dollars for a do-it-yourself Sawaya LEGO set.

LAT: I agree with you, Kash. The pieces were neat, but I wasn’t tempted to pull out my credit card. This was no Heller Ehrman art auction.

KASH: People were definitely engaged by the work, though. I frequently take advantage of Chelsea’s free art galleries, and I’ve never seen a gallery so crowded before nor filled with so many kids. If you’re a parent, it’s probably easier to get your kid excited about LEGO art than about Emily Dickinson’s Miraculous Year. And a subway ride to 25th Street is a lot cheaper than an airplane to California and tickets to LEGOLAND.

LAT: To say nothing of the original LEGOLAND, in Denmark. I visited it as a kid; it’s pretty cool. And pretty much the only thing to do in Denmark.

Well, what did you think of Sawaya’s sculptures?

KASH: The possibility of hokey-ness looms. I had to suppress a giggle looking at the price list and seeing the medium listed as “plastic bricks.” The most successful pieces in the collection plumb emotional depths. The pieces are a far cry from a Sponge Bob Square Pants LEGO figure. A LEGO man staring at his crumbled hands conveys confusion and sadness. A blue LEGO man holding a small grey figure invokes the sorrow, anguish, and composition of La Pietá.

However, a bunch of LEGO skulls on the wall, Warhol style, just made me think of a LEGO pirate set.

LAT: The LEGO skulls actually reminded me of For the Love of God, the diamond-encrusted skull made by Damien Hirst, which he tried to sell for £50 million. At $10,000 for not one but four skulls, Sawaya’s skulls are a bargain!

Check out the slideshow below. Alas, pictures don’t do the sculptures justice. Interested in seeing Sawaya’s works for yourself — or perhaps acquiring one? Feel free to contact or visit Agora Gallery, on West 25th Street here in Manhattan.

Earlier: Nathan Sawaya Gives Up Corporate Law for Legos

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