Luis Jimenez Biography

Luis Jimenez




Luis Jimenez was born in El Paso on July 30, 1940. His father owned an electric sign shop, which exposed Luis to spray painting and welding. 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 in 1966, returned to New Mexico in the early 1970's and found success — and controversy — as a sculptor of outdoor objects, which are featured prominently around Albuquerque, including at the University of New Mexico, in the neighborhood Martineztown and in the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Jimenez drew major attention, positive and negative, in 1983, when neighbors in the Old Town district in Albuquerque objected to a sculpture depicting a Native American caressing a dying woman, saying that it resembled a rape. More recently, Mr. Jimenez completed a sculpture of firefighters for the city of Cleveland, and was putting the finishing touches on the Denver International Airport piece, Mr. Moore said.

"At the height of Minimalism in the 1960's, he chose to do something out of fashion," Mr. Moore said. "His work contributed to the rise of Pop Art, but it was more a willingness to do something so overtly meaningful at first glance."

New Mexico's governor, Bill Richardson, ordered flags around the state to be flown at half-staff today and Friday.

Rudolfo Anaya, professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico, said of Mr. Jimenez: "The kind of medium he used shocked the art world at first. It was first called outlandish and garish, but it spoke not only to Hispanics but to the world. In the coming years there will be a school of Luis Jimenez art."

Luis Jimenez died in his studio in Hondo, New Mexico on June 13, 2006, the result of injuries sustained when one of three pieces from a 32-foot-high sculpture being moved from his studio came loose and pinned him against a steel support. The piece, commissioned by Denver International Airport, depicted a giant mustang horse and had been in development for nearly a decade, according to Jim Moore, former director of the Albuquerque Museum.

Infromation drawn from New York Times obituary.