Ai Wei wei
"Lego's refusal to sell its product to the artist is an act of censorship and discrimination." says Ai Wei Wei on Instagram Alex B. Huckle/Getty

Lego has refused to send Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei a bulk order of its toy bricks, the artist claims, because it "cannot approve the use of Legos for political works." The artist condemns the Danish toymakers' decision, calling the incident "an act of censorship and discrimination."

Ai Weiwei, who is known for his criticism of the Chinese government's iron-fisted censorship, said in an Instagram post on Friday 23 October planned to use the Lego in an artistic piece on free speech called "Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei" which was to be displayed Australia's National Gallery of Victoria later this year.

"As a powerful corporation, Lego is an influential cultural and political actor in the globalized economy with questionable values," he wrote in a second instagram post on Saturday accompanied by a photo of Lego bricks in a toilet.

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"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 post shared by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

"Lego is giving us the definition of what is 'political', and all the big corporations are telling us what to love or hate"
- Ai Weiwei

Earlier this year, the toymaker refused a submission for a custom set to journalist Maia Weinstock's project to celebrate the female justices of the US supreme court, according to the Guardian.

"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," wrote Lego spokesman Roar Rude Trangbæk to the The Huffington Post.

"As a company dedicated to delivering great creative play experiences to children, we refrain - on a global level - from actively engaging in in or endorsing the use of LEGO bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda. This principle is not new."

Masses of fans of the contemporary artist are already offering their support by taking to social media offering to send their own collection of Lego report The Guardian.