Nek Chand’s Concrete and Fabric Sculptures
This rare collection is made up of 160 works of concrete and fabric figures and animals created by self-taught artist Nek Chand. The works originate from his extraordinary 40-acre Rock Garden inhabited by some 10,000 sculptures in the Himalayan foothills of Chandigarh, India, where the Garden is second to the Taj Mahal in attracting tourists.
Driven by the belief that everything in nature transforms itself from one form into another -- nature's way of recycling -- Chand began to collect and sort the rocks, boulders, ceramic shards, bits of broken glass, jewelry, building waste, coal, and clay from the remains of destroyed villages to create a Rock Garden "kingdom," his personal dream and offering to the Supreme Being. The villages whose rubble Chand used to create the sculptures for the Garden were destroyed not only as a result of political upheaval but also to provide room for the development of a new city -- a European-style capital to represent the new India -- the city to which Chand had moved as part of the work effort on the project: Chandigarh.
The sculptures in this permanent collection were gifted to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center over a span of eight years. The artist aided the Arts Center and Kohler Foundation in the selection process, carefully choosing works to receive lasting care and be seen in significant groupings outside of India.
In 2019, John Michael Kohler Art Center received a special selection of Nek Chand pieces to add to their collection. Nek Chand worked with the National Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C. in the late 1990’s to develop an outdoor rooftop garden containing his sculptures. Due to the harsh climate and materials of the elements, the sculptures were removed and placed in storage. The museum contacted the Kohler Foundation to conserve and help place these cultural treasures where there would be cared for permanently. JMKAC graciously accepted these 41 pieces to enhance their already stellar collection.