Lego has announced it is reversing its policy on bulk purchases and will no longer ask customers what they want to use the bricks for.
The U-turn follows a recent controversy involving Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
In October 2015, Ai Weiwei accused Lego of censorship when it refused to sell its bricks directly to him.
Lego said its policy was to reject requests if it believed the bricks would be used to make a political statement.
Ai Weiwei wanted to make an artwork on political dissidents.
The artist ended up using bricks donated to him by the public for an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia.
In a statement posted on its website on January 12, Lego said it used to ask customers ordering bulk purchases for the “thematic purpose” of their project, as it did not want to “actively support or endorse specific agendas”.
“However, those guidelines could result in misunderstandings or be perceived as inconsistent, and the Lego Group has therefore adjusted the guidelines for sales of Lego bricks in very large quantities,” it said.
As of January 1, 2015, Lego will instead ask that customers make clear the group does not support or endorse their projects, if exhibited in public.
Lego’s decision to refuse Ai Weiwei’s request angered the artist, who accused the company of censorship and discrimination, and of attempting to define political art.
Ai Weiwei also linked Lego’s stance with plans for a new Legoland in Shanghai.
The controversy sparked a public backlash resulting in supporters around the world offering to donate toy bricks.
Ai Weiwei set up “Lego collection points” in different cities, and ended up making a new series of artworks based on the incident as a commentary on freedom of speech and political art.
Ai Weiwei is helping to launch The Space – a website dedicated to digital art.
The $13.5 million project will commission and showcase new art for audiences around the world.
Ai Weiwei has given the names of victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China to a 24-hour launch event taking place at London’s Tate Modern this weekend.
He hopes the names will be used to create “a meaningful piece of digital art”.
The launch event for The Space at Tate Modern featured a video message from Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing
Ai compiled the list of names of 5,196 student victims via his blog after accusations that shoddy construction work had caused the collapse of thousands of classrooms during the quake.
The dissident artist has made a number of artworks about Sichuan, including Nian (“Remembrance”), a sound installation of the students’ names being recited by 3,444 individuals rallied from a Twitter campaign.
The launch event for The Space at Tate Modern featured a video message from Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing.
“It gives another opportunity and a platform for artists or somebody like me to work with. I believe many, many young people and students will love it,” he said.
The Space will feature some 50 new art commissions a year.
Speaking on Friday, launch director Ruth Mackenzie said that not every commission was expected to be a success.
But she hoped that potential “Picassos or Eisensteins” would submit ideas to The Space for a paid commission.
“[Visitors] might come and have a have good laugh because it didn’t work out, or you might come and see history and see the invention of an entirely new art form,” she said.
The launch weekend features a “hackathon” in the Tate’s Turbine Hall with around 150 artists creating digital artworks from scratch over a 24-hour period.
Ai Weiwei and Olafur Eliasson’s interactive digital art work Moon has been loaned to Tate Modern for the event. It is the first time it has been displayed in a UK Gallery.
Alex Graham, who chairs The Space – which originally launched as a pilot in 2012 – described the project as “a gallery without walls”.
The 2012 pilot had more than 1.5 million visits, an average of 40,000 per week.
Artist and dissident Ai Weiwei’s appeal against a tax evasion fine has been rejected by a Chinese court, his lawyer says.
Police barred Ai Weiwei from attending court in Beijing’s Chaoyang district to hear the verdict delivered.
Tax authorities imposed a 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) fine on Ai Weiwei’s firm for tax evasion in 2011.
Supporters say the fine is politically motivated and Ai Weiwei wanted the court to overrule the penalty.
”We will keep appealing, until the day comes when we have nothing to lose,” Ai Weiwei said via Twitter.
His lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who was in court for the verdict, told reporters that the ruling was ”totally without reason”.
Ai Weiwei’s appeal against a tax evasion fine has been rejected by a Chinese court
The artist, a outspoken critic of the government, was detained for almost three months without charge last year.
After he was released, he was accused of tax evasion and the fine imposed.
The Chinese authorities maintain that the firm, called Fake Cultural Development, owes them money and it must be paid back.
While Ai weiwei is a designer for Fake Cultural Development, his wife is the legal representative of his company.
The artist said earlier that police, stationed outside his home, had barred him from attending the court hearing.
”If I can’t even appear in court, what more does this country have to do with me?” he said over Twitter.
Security was tight at the court with reports of both uniformed and plainclothes police in the area and people, including journalists and diplomats, being turned away.
Ai Weiwei, 55, has said that the tax bill is pay-back for his activism and challenged it on the grounds that proper procedure had not been followed.
The Beijing court agreed to hear the case, in a surprise move.
“The entire judiciary is shrouded in darkness,” he said from his home in northeast Beijing after the verdict.
Born in 1957 in Beijing, Ai Weiwei, the son of one of China’s most famous poets, Ai Qing, has played a key role in contemporary Chinese art over the last two decades.
His involvement in the design of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” Olympic stadium brought him international prominence.
But he fell out of favor with authorities with his outspoken criticism over the Olympics and the devastating May 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
In December 2010, he was among a group of activists and critics banned from travelling. A month later, his studio in Shanghai was demolished after officials said he had failed to obtain planning permission for the building.
He was then detained in April 2011 at Beijing airport.