Ai Weiwei Lego Artwork for Andy Warhol Exhibition in Melbourne: How to Donate?

Wikimedia/ Hafenbar

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese Contemporary artist and activist, has been receiving immense love from fans across the globe after Lego refused to sell the activist artist a bulk order for a forthcoming artwork.

In a recent Instagram post, the artist revealed that the Danish toy company refused to provide him with blocks he will need for his upcoming exhibit in Sydney.

“Lego told him – they cannot approve the use of Legos for political works and later called the decision, an act of censorship and discrimination,” The Guardian noted.

"We're here to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow" ( In June 2015 Ai Weiwei Studio began to design artworks which would have required a large quantity of Lego bricks to produce. The works were planned for the exhibition "Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei" at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, to open in December 2015. The artworks' concept relates to freedom of speech. The museum's curatorial team contacted Lego to place a bulk order and received Lego's reply via email on 12 September 2015: "We regret to inform you that it is against our corporate policy to indicate our approval of any unaffiliated activities outside the LEGO licensing program. However, we realize that artists may have an interest in using LEGO elements, or casts hereof, as an integrated part of their piece of art. In this connection, the LEGO Group would like to draw your attention to the following: The LEGO trademark cannot be used commercially in any way to promote, or name, the art work. The title of the artwork cannot incorporate the LEGO trademark. We cannot accept that the motive(s) are taken directly from our sales material/copyrighted photo material. The motive(s) cannot contain any political, religious, racist, obscene or defaming statements. It must be clear to the public that the LEGO Group has not sponsored or endorsed the art work/project. Therefore I am very sorry to let you know that we are not in a position to support the exhibition Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei by supplying the bulk order." Ai Weiwei Studio was informed by NGV about Lego's rejection of the bulk order. As a commercial entity, Lego produces and sells toys, movies and amusement parks attracting children across the globe. As a powerful corporation, Lego is an influential cultural and political actor in the globalized economy with questionable values. Lego's refusal to sell its product to the artist is an act of censorship and discrimination.

A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

Ai is one of the most prominent artists in China, known to use his artworks as a form of protest to the government.

According to Skynews, Ai has used the toy blocks “to create portraits of political activists from around the world for an exhibition at Alcatraz prison in the United States last year and intended to create a Lego artwork for his upcoming show at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.”

Surprised at Lego’s reaction to his request, the artist said at a press conference in Berlin, “I was flabbergasted as it was a perfectly respectable order,” notes Sky News.

In response to Lego’s move, multiple fans have taken a stand for Ai and have offered to donate their own Lego blocks to complete his project, some using the hashtag #legosforweiwei on social media.

Ai Weiwei says he’ll accept Lego donations from fans and will set up collection spots worldwide. One collection point is in Beijing, wherein a car parked outside his studio in Beijing has Lego bricks on its roof, notes Sky News.

A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

In a statement, Lego said, as noted by NPR:

“We acknowledge that Lego bricks today are used globally by millions of fans, adults, children and artists as a creative medium to express their imagination and creativity in many different ways. Projects that are not endorsed or supported by the Lego group. However, as a company dedicated to delivering great creative play experiences to children, we refrain — on a global level — from actively engaging in or endorsing the use of Lego bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda. This principle is not new.”

Ai Weiwei’s Lego artwork will be included in his upcoming exhibition “Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei” at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

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