Luis Jiménez (sculptor)

Luis Alfonso Jiménez Jr. (July 30, 1940 – June 13, 2006) was an American sculptor of Mexican descent.[1] Known for portraying Hispanic-American themes, his works have been displayed at the Smithsonian and at Denver International Airport.

Luis A. Jiménez Jr.
Born(1940-07-30)July 30, 1940
DiedJune 13, 2006(2006-06-13) (aged 65)
Alma materUniversity of Texas
Known forFiberglass sculpture, prints


Born in El Paso, Texas, he worked at his father's neon sign studio as a child.

He studied art and architecture at the University of Texas in Austin and El Paso, earning a bachelor's degree in 1964. He moved to New York City in 1966 after completing his post-graduate work at Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, D.F.

He became an accomplished artist and taught art at the University of Arizona and later the University of Houston.


Jiménez was known for his large polychromed fiberglass sculptures usually of Southwestern and Hispanic themes. His works were often controversial and eminently recognizable because of their themes and the bright, colorful undulating surfaces that Jiménez employed.

Jiménez was influenced by the murals of José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. He was very much a contemporary artist whose roots were in pop art, as much as they were in both the modernism of the Mexican muralists and the regionalism of Benton and Grant Wood.[2] Heroic sculptures were Jiménez's forte, championing the common man in his work.[3] Working in his father's shop, making neon signs, as well as lowrider car culture, and featuring brightly painted fiberglass bodywork, were also artistic influences.[4]

Primarily a sculptor, he also created color lithographs and colored-pencil drawings. He would use preparatory drawings for his sculptures, which are made of fiberglass cast in a mold, then painted and coated with epoxy.[5] One art expert has noted, "There was no surface on any Luis Jiménez sculpture that was ever any less than six different colors, each airbrushed separately adding a slightly different tone." Jiménez would also often use flake, that glittery quality often seen on lowrider cars, in his paint.[6]

In 1993, Jiménez was a recipient of the New Mexico Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts.[7] In 1998 he received a Distinguished Alumni award from the University of Texas in recognition of his artwork.


As a child, his left eye was shot by a BB gun. Surgeries corrected his vision, but he developed persistent migraines and got a glass eye later in life.[8]

As a young adult teaching art at junior high school, he was temporarily paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident.[5]

In his later years, he had a heart attack and required hand surgery.[8]


On June 13, 2006, Jiménez died in an accident at age 65 in his studio in Hondo, New Mexico, when a large section of his 32-foot-high work Blue Mustang, intended for Denver International Airport, came loose from a hoist and severed an artery in his leg.[9][8]

Governor Bill Richardson ordered flags in New Mexico flown at half-staff June 15–16, 2006, in Jiménez's honor.[9]


Jiménez's daughter Elisa is a multimedia artist and fashion designer and was a contestant on season four of Bravo's reality television series Project Runway.[10][11]



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Nava, Yolanda (2000). It's All in the Frijoles: 100 Famous Latinos Share Real Life Stories Time Tested Dichos Favorite Folkta. ISBN 9780684849003.
  2. ^ Yau, John (1994). "Looking at America the Art of Luis Jimenez"/Man on Fire. p. 41. ISBN 0-8263-1551-8.
  3. ^ Kutner, Janet (June 1, 1997). ""Art and Soul: Luis Jimenez"/Dallas Morning News".
  4. ^ Questions and Answers about Luis Jimenez' Southwestern Pieta - Hispanic Research Center, Arizona State University, 2001
  5. ^ a b "Luis Jiménez | Smithsonian American Art Museum". Archived from the original on August 4, 2021. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  6. ^ Wolf, Stephanie. "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Blucifer, The Demon Horse Of DIA". Colorado Public Radio. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  7. ^ "The Award Winners". New Mexico Museum of Art. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Daurer, Gregory (October 12, 2016). "Rhapsody in Blucifer". Confluence. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Belcher, David a. (July 31, 2013). "Luis Jimenez, Sculptor, Dies in an Accident at 65 - New York Times". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  10. ^ "Project Runway Official Biography". Bravo. Archived from the original on December 17, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2007.
  11. ^ Willard, David (September 1998). ""Sculptor Luis Jimenez Receives UT's Distinguished Alumni Award"/Department of Art and Art History".
  12. ^ a b "Art. History. People". City of Albuquerque. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  13. ^ Ford, Lauren Moya (November 23, 2021). "Inside Luis Jiménez's American Southwest". Hyperallergic. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  14. ^ "Border Crossing". New Mexico Museum of Art. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  15. ^ Agresta, Michael (November 9, 2021). "Portrait of the Artist as a Borderland Working-class Hero". Texas Monthly. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  16. ^ "Luis Jiménez's Man on Fire: From the Olmec Were-Jaguar and the Vietnam War to Spiritual Self-Portrait". Glasstire. March 16, 2022. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  • Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Luis Jimenez, Austin, Texas: Laguna Gloria Art Museum, 1983
  • Landis, Moore, et al., "Man on Fire, Luis Jiménez, El Hombre en Llamas, The Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1994
  • McHenry, Deni McIntosh. Luis Jiménez: Working-Class Heroes: Images from the Popular Culture, Kansas City, Missouri: Mid-America Arts Alliance, 1997
  • Ramos, E. Carmen, "The Latino Presence in American Art," American Art 26 (Summer 2012): 7-13
  • Storey, Natalie, Artist Dies in Studio Accident, The Santa Fe New Mexican, June 14, 2006, page 1

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