In this rather solemn LEGO mosaic by Jaap Bijl titled “Einstein’s One Great Mistake”; a more serious topic is explored – Albert Einstein and his role in the Manhattan Project. If we’re going to get artsy here, I would even say that the color palette and aesthetic of this build are reminiscent of Picasso’s “Blue Period.”
The 4×4 petaled flower element is back in multiples, this time in an ominous arrangement forming a mushroom cloud – the shape generally synonymous with nuclear explosions. The rest of the scene in the right panel is formed with various sized plates and tiles in dark hues with white 1×1 round bricks and cones creating the stem of the cloud. A portrait of Einstein is presented in the left panel; his face is carved out of various bricks, slopes, and tiles, for the most part utilizing the SNOT (studs not on top) technique. Einstein’s notoriously unruly and spiky hair is rendered by a synergy of the white 4×4 petaled flower pieces and white dinosaur tails. In terms of composition, although this work could be called a mosaic, it differs significantly from the new LEGO Art mosaics which are comprised mostly out of 1×1 studs. For me, Einstein’s hair and the mushroom cloud both being heavily composed of the petaled flower elements represents a kind of mirroring effect, but I could be looking too deep into this. Either way, I think it could be said that this build is genuinely thought-provoking.
The idea for a new quarantine hobby — marble sculpture. Oh sure, it can be pricey and a little hazardous… but if we’re talking about LEGO, all you need is a monochrome minifig on hand and a few Tuscan houses to set a scene like Kev.the.builder’s latest creation. In this idyllic build, Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci is carving out a new masterpiece. The sculpture looks very polished, being made of a variety of tiles, including a Nexo Knights shield and macaroni tiles. The houses in the background are great examples of Kev’s knack for textured brickwork. My favorite is the dark tan house on the right, with its inset masonry brick door. The exposed studs on its pediment add a nice rustic touch at the top of an upside-down cheese slope archway.
It’s 1496 in Milan, Italy and the renowned artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci is finishing up his latest commission, a fresco spanning the wall of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Over the years, “The Last Supper” has become a symbol of the Renaissance art movement. More recently, it has been recreated as a LEGO vignette by Joe (jnj_bricks). In this stunning rendition of da Vinci’s masterpiece, Joe creates the appearance of a two-dimensional fresco with the illusion of three-dimensionality using three-dimensional LEGO bricks– it’s mind-boggling!
Let’s take a look at some of Joe’s illusionistic building techniques in “The Last Supper”. First, the floor in the fresco is built slanting upwards. This creates a deep shadow underneath the table, reminiscent of da Vinci’s chiaroscuro technique of contrasting light and shadow in his oil paintings. Next, the walls of the room within the fresco are built using slope bricks instead of standard 1x bricks, making the “back wall” appear to be much farther away than it actually is. Finally, the bordering brick “window” that frames the fresco completes the composition. Early illusionistic wall paintings that date back to ancient Rome would also use this technique to portray a vista into another world.
All of these techniques enhance the forced perspective in the overall build, creating a convincing replica of the real-life fresco. With the amount of realistic details and artistic techniques packed in this build, it’s hard to believe Joe hasn’t apprenticed for the Renaissance master builders!
LEGO builder Grant Davis demonstrates quite a few tricks with this massive King of Diamonds playing card. The seed part is a white 4×4 flower. He incorporates twenty-one of those mamma-jammas into the intricate design of this card. Also expertly woven into the design is yellow ribbed hoses and a myriad of parts situated in complex angles. Grant doesn’t provide size dimensions in his write-up but based on the bricks that we can see, we estimate this feat of artistry is nearly three feet high! Now let’s hope he’ll also build fifty-one of his closest friends to complete the deck. Until then, you may want to settle in and check out some of the other stuff Grant has built.
August has arrived and that means new LEGO sets! LEGO has launched 108 new sets and items available today. In addition to new sets like the Nintendo NES and Super Mario lineup, Ideas Grand Piano, Star Wars 501st Battle Pack and LEGO Art, fans in the US and Canada can finally celebrate the summer arrival of Harry Potter, Creator 3-in-1, City, and Ninjago waves that you’ve waited so patiently for. Nearly every LEGO theme has some new sets–it can be a lot to process!– so we have your complete guide right here detailing each and every new set and item. [EDIT: It appears that LEGO may have delayed the US & Canada release of some of these sets until September. We’ve asked for clarification.]
LEGO is also offering two free gifts-with-purchases at the start of August. The first is 30385 Super Mushroom Surprise, free with purchases of LEGO Super Mario sets more than US $40 through August 16th or while supplies last.
A LEGO builder who goes by the dubious name of buttloaf_builds (if that’s your real name!) has constructed something called The Gluttonous. It comes with the ominous quote; “Covet not lest you be devoured by your greed in turn.” That reminds me, unless you happen to live in devil-may-care Florida or Texas, most of us haven’t seen an all-you-can-eat buffet since before the pandemic. Nor are they giving away free samples at Trader Joe’s or Costco to stuff our faces with. Is this a good thing? Somehow it hasn’t stopped me from adding another inch to my ever-expanding waistline. Still, this is a pretty neat creation even if it’s a bit disturbing.
It is inspired by this mural painted by Coppo di Marcovaldo in circa 1260. It kind of makes you want to reconsider eating that third cookie now, doesn’t it?
Instagram user legotruman renders a LEGO version of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and we’re all pretty impressed. See what I did there? Impressed. Because Impressionist. Get it? This is why I make the big bucks here, people. Anyway, we can all appreciate good LEGO art here. I particularly enjoy the plates set at all those crazy rakish angles representing those crazy rakish clouds. The moon with its halo glow is also quite charming.
Not content to copy the human form, self-aware robots are now co-opting the works of their original masters in a blatant attempt to show off. This latest piece of so-called art depicts the creation of some robot by another robot, documented by a human “assistant” called Red. While the subject may be a bit derivative (I think there is a famous chapel somewhere in Europe that has something similar on the ceiling), I can find no fault in the construction. Notice the twisting tubes on the creator, which remind the viewer of muscles coiled for action… And the reclining figure looks like it is well suited to its purpose if that purpose is laying around while the human servants do all the work.
Thanks to an ongoing round of Iron Builder, which sees two contestants pitted against each other to build a variety of LEGO models using a specific element, we’ve been seeing an explosion of builds employing the dynamite bundle, from arcade machines to detailed kitchens. Cecilie Fritzvold, in particular, has been on a roll, sticking that dynamite piece into builds anywhere she can fit it, including into this amazing dragon scroll, where nearly 50 of the bundles make up the twisting body of the beast.
And lest you think Cecilie is cheating by just neatly arranging a bunch of pieces on a tiled baseplate, look very closely and you’ll see that each piece is attached with a clip, meaning you could actually hang this on your wall. Well, except for that brick-built hangar, maybe. The two long black Technic axles that stand in for the string might not be up for the task.
A major problem with the diets of many folks these days is that they do not eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, instead deriving too many of their calories from highly processed wheat, corn, and soy. There’s nothing wrong with wheat, corn, or soy, per se, but they don’t provide many of the vitamins and minerals necessary for human health. So consider this LEGO build by Barbara Hoel to be a public service announcement: eat your fruits and veggies! Your gut will thank you. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
This still life is awash with bright colors, with red apples, green, dark red, and purple grapes, orange oranges, yellow pears, and perhaps a dark red plum. Yummy! Organic curves are hard to do in LEGO, but Barbara has done a great job sculpting them. And then there is the tablecloth beneath them all, with every shade of blue imaginable featured. Someone must have invested in some LEGO DOTS sets! If only the background were black velvet, this would look great surrounded by a gilded frame and hanging on the wall of my dining room, reminding me to eat my fruits and vegetables.
Due to the tragic murders of George Floyd, Manuel Ellis, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and far too many other African-Americans, racial injustices that Black people experience every day have come to the forefront of white consciousness once again. We’ve been examining how this very real-world issue affects the hobby we participate in, not just for a moment in time but on an ongoing basis. Earlier this week, we sat down with Canadian artist Ekow Nimako, whose LEGO work we’ve featured several times, including his stunning Flower Girl sculpture and wonderful Beasts from Bricks book.
Our conversation with Ekow covered his experience growing up playing with LEGO, interactions with the LEGO hobbyist community, the Afrocentric and Afrofuturist themes of his artwork, and how LEGO communities such as The Brothers Brick can operate more inclusively.
We ask you to watch the full video before reacting with comments. While the reaction from some quarters to recent statements we’ve made that Black Lives Matter has been dismissed as “political” and some reactions have been outright hateful, by and large the response from the LEGO hobbyist community has been empathetic and supportive. Nevertheless, there is much more to be done. A number of our readers have rightly pointed out The Brothers Brick’s own contributor list as one area where we can improve, asking us to work harder to recruit a more diverse team while highlighting more non-white builders and highlighting the LEGO creations of people of color. As I committed to during the video conversation with Ekow, one of our next steps will be to kick off a new round of contributor recruiting to improve our own diversity and better represent the community we are a part of.
This week, we have guest writer Jonah Schultz who has been a fan of LEGO since he was 3 years old and became more active in the community again in 2015. He is a student of medieval and modern history and French literature and is very much into photography. He also enjoys learning about other people’s outlook on the hobby and marvels at the diversity, creativity, and warmth of the community.
Storytelling and LEGO are two terms that go very well together, don’t they? Indeed, both the LEGO Group and LEGO enthusiasts have made storytelling a key element to creating with LEGO bricks over the years.