Yesterday we went to visit ‘The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes’ exhibit on London’s South Bank. The fully LEGO exhibit opened on March 1st and runs to September 3rd 2017. It features the art of Nathan Sawaya put together using nearly 2,000,000 of the famous coloured bricks.
Through a series of immersive galleries Sawaya will take you on a journey through the world of DC Comics using interpretations on characters, vehicles, environments and themes found throughout the DC Super Heroes mythology including transformation and reinvention, strength and weakness, as well as good vs. evil.
What was instantly surprising about ‘The Art of the Brick’ was the number of pieces in the exhibit considering the size of the tent. It looks pretty demure from the outside but inside there are just tonnes of sculptures to behold. For the price of £16 per adult ticket it is great value for money.
Upon entering the tent you get to share a moment with a LEGO Joker surrounded by Jim Lee art. Once you have snapped a photo with Joker it’s time for an introduction video with the artist. After hearing about his interest in the themes of comic books and why he chose to work with DC Comics then it’s on to the exhibit.
The first room features some great huge pieces focussing on Aquaman, Green Lantern, Cyborg and Flash. These guys don’t get rooms of their own but some of these pieces are the best in the exhibition. There’s also room for a replica of the ‘Action Comics’ #1 cover and another famous ‘Justice League’ ensemble cover. To top it all there’s also a huge 360 degree platform featuring full body figures for a huge number of the DC Comics roster.
Each piece is beautifully lit and presented. The character statues were a sight to behold as Sawaya picked lesser known characters like Booster Gold, Vixen and Star Girl. Everyone was instantly recognisable and engaging to look at whilst seeking out the finer details.
The next room focusses on the main Justice League members. There are huge statues of each member of the League. Each one is made up of only two colours: one for the body and the other for their logo which is incorporated in to the body. Each statue is placed on an immersive backdrop which is pulled right from the characters backstory. Wonder Woman stands on the landscape of Themyscira, Batman rests like a gargoyle in front of the bat signal and Superman stands tall against his Fortress of Solitude.
Next up is the first character centric room: Superman. This room features a series of pieces dedicated to the man of steal ranging from the abstract to the amazing. My favourite was easily the Superman suspended from the ceiling in mid flight. It’s worth nothing that not only is the look of the exhibit well thought out but so is its soundtrack.
Whilst surrounded by Superman the theme tune to ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’ rings out across the room. It’s not the Christopher Reeve them but it certainly adds a buoyancy to the art.
Moving on to the next room its time for some abstract models. Using larger, blockier shapes to create the form of each of DC Comics signature heroes. This appeared to the room that attendees spent the least time in. It acted as almost a breather between the more high-end artwork.
Wonder Woman is up next. A brief but memorable exploration of the characters history includes a scale model of her invisible jet which is ingeniously suspended between ceiling and floor. When you first enter it looks like a series of floating bricks but as you move around it the shape of the plane comes together. Oddly the Wonder Woman room is one of the least colourful of the bunch.
The next room celebrates the light of DC Comics. Featuring some comedy pieces like Aquaman in the bath, to representations of Krypto the Super Dog and Adam Wests Batmobile. This room is another highlight of the exhibit and was also where I really started to look at how many bricks made up each piece.
Next up ‘The Art of the Brick’ took us to the dark side of DC Comics. Entering this room you are instantly struck by the recreation of the cover art for ‘The Killing Joke’. I could have stared at it all day. So many fine details had been recreated to the point where it was easy to forget it was LEGO.
This room doesn’t just represent the A-list villains. There was plenty of room for a few lesser known ones though the highlight of this villainous room is easily the huge Joker face. It’s menacing lighting and huge scale easily makes it a draw for anybody before they leave to talking heads room which comes up next. Don’t get suckered in by Joker and miss the extraordinary Superman piece which shows Bizarro staring into a mirror whilst Superman stares back at him.
The talking heads room features giant replica head of the Justice League members. Each one is pared with an iconic cover from their character history. Much like ‘The Killing Joke’ cover it’s easy to get lost in the fine detail. Natan Sawaya is able to do things with LEGO that I didn’t think were possible.
We’re almost at the end of the tour with the first of two Batman themed rooms. The first features a life size Batman and Bat signal as well as some colours cowls. The standout piece in this room is a life size Batman built out of blocks which recreate his first ever comic cover. Make sure to take some time to take in the Bat logo on the wall. At face value it’s a simple Bat shaped logo but when you look up close it is made up of hundreds of LEGO Batarangs. Absolute genius.
Of course the entire time that you’re with Batman the famous Danny Elfman theme is playing. As it should.
The finale piece in the exhibit is a huge Batmobile. So huge it require a room of its own designed to recreate the Batcave. It’s a 360 masterpiece made up of more LEGO bricks than I would care to count. Rather than turn to the films to create a famous design Sawaya picks something a little more comic book which makes it all the more cool. All the better is the small detail in the design, make sure to look at this piece up close and see how many Bat-symbols you can count.
On to the gift shop/coffee shop/playroom. There’s LEGO to play with (naturally), some games colours featuring ‘Arkham Knight’ and various ‘LEGO’ games. There’s also a gift shop featuring both LEGO and DC Comics merch. It’s as overpriced as an museum gift shop but there’s a good selection of stuff to choose from.
Overall ‘The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes’ is brilliant. The artwork is amazing. The setup is brilliant and far exceeded all expectations. We spent around 1.5hrs walking around, others have said they’ve walked it in 15mins and some have said 4hrs. There’s plenty for all ages to see and enjoy and you might learn a thing or two about characters you didn’t know.
Well worth a visit!
For more information and to get tickets head to http://www.aotbdc.co.uk.
Head to http://www.facebook.com/getyourcomicon for the full gallery of over 250 images from the exhibit!