art of the brick yellow metamorphosis sawayaFine art and LEGO may not seem the most likely of combinations, but those interlocking and mesmerizing little toys from childhood are raised to a higher plane in The Art of the Brick exhibition by artist Nathan Sawaya that recently opened (and runs through early next year) at New York City’s Discovery Times Square.

Sawaya’s own story is a discovery in itself. Talk about career transitions: he left life as a corporate attorney to pursue his distinctive creative calling in 2004, eventually picking up a number of newfound celebrity clients along the way (Bill Clinton has a LEGO creation of a Sawaya globe on one of his desks), and his works now command as high as the six figures.

The Art of the Brick, which CNN calls “one of the ten global must-see exhibitions” (it’s already toured Asia and Australia), assembles over 100 of Sawaya’s pieces, including his now defining “Yellow” man, shown at top, composed of 11,000 blocks and reaching, shall we say, deeply inside himself. Other sparse and modern geometric statues, most in the primary colors of blue, red (and yes, yellow) permeate the exhibit, with Sawaya’s imagination also “connecting” with portraits of pop-culture figures like Jimi Hendrix and Alfred Hitchcock, reinterpreted in brick.

The artist says his ultimate goal has always been to “elevate this simple plaything to a place it has never been before.” Rarely has child’s play been this thoughtfully engaging.

art of the brick monet detail sawaya
Monet with a twist: a Sawaya detail of the French Impressionist’s “San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk”

(Photos: Suzanne DeChillo / The New York Times)