LEGOs Aren’t Art, So Don’t Put Them in a Gallery

March 12, 2015 | Liam Mathews

Tribeca gallery Apexart is opening an exhibit of miniatures from 11 artists on March 18 featuring an intricate diorama of tiny figures digging through debris; a painstaking miniature recreation of the artist’s studio; and a LEGO recreation of the meth lab from Breaking Bad. Which of these is things is not like the others?

This is another low point in the ongoing quest for LEGO-related #content. One of the internet’s most endlessly replenished and reliably boring #content genres is “here’s a thing you like made to look like a thing you liked when you were a kid,” and other than Disney princesses, LEGOs are the easiest. There have been literally thousands of LEGO versions of things that thirsty creators and publishers have meme-ified. It’s unimaginative and craven and soulless.

And now it’s invading the real world. Elevating #content to the status of art without commentary is unfair to art. Placing LEGOs that say, “look at this neat and familiar thing” side-by-side with thoughtfully constructed works by artists trying to make a point is an insidious dumbing-down of culture.

I’m not saying making TV-inspired stuff out of LEGOs is without value. It requires craft and creativity and can be entertaining. The Lego Movie was funny. But it’s not art. It’s a purely commercial endeavor. It’s free advertising for the largest toy company in the world. It simply doesn’t belong.