Luis Jiménez

born El Paso, TX 1940-died Hondo, NM 2006
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Smithsonian American Art Museum
Also known as
  • Luis Alfonso Jiménez Jr.
  • Luis A. Jiménez
  • Luis A. Jiménez Jr.
  • Luis Alfonso Jiménez
  • Luis Jimenez
El Paso, Texas, United States
Hondo, New Mexico, United States

Born in Texas, lives in New Mexico. Sculptor, teacher whose large fiberglass figures capture the color and vigor of Hispanic-American women and men.

Charles Sullivan, ed American Beauties: Women in Art and Literature (New York: Henry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with National Museum of American Art, 1993)

Artist Biography

Luis Jiménez studied architecture and art at the University of Texas at Austin, receiving his B.F.A. degree in 1964. Following a brief stay in Mexico and six years in New York, he returned to the Southwest in the early 1970s. He now divides his time between El Paso, Texas, and Hondo, New Mexico.

Although Jiménez is primarily a sculptor, he is also accomplished at color lithographs and colored-pencil drawings. He executes preparatory drawings to work out the conceptual and and formal configurations of his sculptures, which are made of fiberglass cast in a mold, then painted and coated with epoxy. His New York sulptures, such as Man on Fire, [SAAM, 1979.124] involve themes of political and social satire, while those made after his return to the Southwest focus on that region's Mexican and Anglo-American communities.

Man on Fire, a larger than life-size sculpture, was inspired by Jose Clemente Orozco's 1938–39 dome painting in the Cabanas Orphanage in Guadalajara, Mexico. The work, which evokes the story of Cuauhtemoc, the legendary Aztec warrior who was tortured to death with fire by the Spaniards soon after the Conquest of Mexico in 1521, also reflects Luis Jiménez's keen awareness of Vietnamese monks who practiced self-immolation as a protest against the war in the 1960s.

Jiménez combines size, color, and pose to create a dramatic and heroic effect in this impressive work. The flaming figure strikes a triumphant stance with legs spread apart. The flames swirl up from a container placed between the figure's legs, moving up the right side of the torso across the back, around the head, and finally over the entire surface of the extended left arm.

Hispanic-American Art (brochure, Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art)

Luce Artist Biography

As a child, Luis Jiménez apprenticed at his father's neon-sign studio. He studied art and architecture at the University of Texas and then traveled to Mexico City, where he studied the famous Mexican muralists. Jiménez taught art at an El Paso junior high school until he was temporarily paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident. In 1966 the artist moved to New York, where he began making painted fiberglass figurative works inspired by the everyday lives of Latin Americans living in the Southwest. His work shows his concern for working-class people and those who have suffered from discrimination. One such work, Vaquero, celebrates the Mexican tradition of the caballero and can be seen outside the Smithsonian American Art Museum.



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Graphic Masters III: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
January 15, 2010August 7, 2010
Graphic Masters III: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the third in a series of special installations, celebrates the extraordinary variety and accomplishment of American artists' works on paper.
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Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art
October 25, 2013March 2, 2014
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-twentieth century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge.
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¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now
November 20, 2020August 8, 2021
In the 1960s, activist Chicano artists forged a remarkable history of printmaking that remains vital today.

Related Books

National Museum of American Art
The striking design of this book showcases a comprehensive survey of the world’s largest collection of works by American artists, ranging from colonial limners to the contemporary avant-garde. With abundant full-color illustrations, the book is organized thematically to reflect the variety of concerns and aesthetic visions that have shaped American art over the past three centuries.