Last October 2015, Danish toymaker Lego had denied Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s request for a bulk order of the plastic toys. As posted on his Instagram, Mr. Ai claimed Lego denied a bulk order, reiterating the company didn’t approve usage of Lego toys for political purposes. The artist never considered opting for a personalized canvas art prints for his art projects.
The artist accuses Merlin Entertainments willopen a Legoland park in Shanghai with a Chinese partner. The declaration timely coincided with Chinese president Xi Jinping’s state visit to the Britain, which actuated Mr. Ai’s Instagram post.
The bulk order of the artist could have been used to design an artwork to be featured in the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia later that year.
This is not the first time the toymaker met a political dispute. Earlier in 2015, Lego denied journalist Maia Weinstock for her entry to a Lego platform of a custom set which commemorated the female justices of the American supreme court. Had they used a personalized canvas art prints, the problem could have been better. But despite that case, there seemed to be no instance from the company to deny a bulk order for political grounds. Lego never returned a request for comment.
However, in April 2016, Lego admitted a mistake for the Danish toymaker’s refusal to sell bricks to Mr. Ai. The company found itself at the center of a social media storm in 2015 after the artist said Lego had refused his order for the renowned kid’s building blocks. Lego’s deputy chairman Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen said the decision to deny the artist a bulk order was an internal mistake.
Since then, the artist’s artworkswere exhibited inside Alcatraz Penitentiary in San Francisco, featuring his artworks made of plastic toys. The pieces entitled Trace demonstrated pixelated images of around 175 political prisoners including Edward Snowden, Nelson Mandela, and Nobel prize-winning Liu Xiaobo. What if he used personalized canvas art prints; it could have been another artistic way of presentation.
The Danish toymaker had planned to expand its presence in China as growth in the Americas have slowed down. In 2016, the company reported that Asia had the highest growth rate.