The American Folk Art Museum notes with profound sadness the death of visionary artist Nek Chand, whose multi-acre creation, Rock Garden, lives on as a paradigm of art by the self-taught. Twenty-five acres in scope (or, roughly speaking, more than twenty-five football fields), Rock Garden is a colorful shadow-city of roads, bridges, aqueducts, and waterfalls. It is inhabited by large groups of human-like figures and animal-like creatures—all sculpted with detritus of industrial- and consumer-oriented materials such as discarded ceramics, glass, plastic, and concrete. The museum led an expedition to Chandigarh, India, in the early 2000s, where participants were welcomed by Chand, who subsequently donated five pieces from Rock Garden to the museum’s collection. Later, in 2006, the Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C.—as a result of its relocation project—donated twenty-nine works (which Chand had created specifically for that site) to the American Folk Art Museum. On that occasion, the museum presented an exhibition of sculptures by Chand, which included photographs and video that detailed Rock Garden. Preserving Chand’s sculptures for future generations and exhibiting them to the public is not only a fulfillment of the museum’s mission, but an honor and a privilege that the museum will maintain with vigilance. We extend our deepest sympathy to the artist’s family and friends.
Image: Lady Fetching Water, Nek Chand (1924–2015), Chandigarh, India, c. 1984, concrete over metal armature with mixed media, 32 x 11 x 4 in., American Folk Art Museum, gift of the National Children’s Museum, Washington, D.C., from the Capital Children’s Museum Nek Chand Fantasy Garden, in honor of Gerard C. Wertkin, director of the American Folk Art Museum, 1991 to 2004, 2004.25.11. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.