(b El Paso, TX, Jul 30, 1940; d Hondo, NM, Jun 13, 2006).
Hispanic American sculptor and printmaker. He specialized in larger-than-life, vibrantly colored, fiberglass, and epoxy sculptures that celebrate humanity and reflect his Mexican American heritage. He was also an accomplished printmaker (lithographs and etchings) and draftsman (colored-pencil drawings). As the “Godfather” of Chicano art, the artist of working-class people and mentor to numerous Hispanic artists, he played an important role in bringing Chicano sensibilities into mainstream art.
Born the son of an illegal immigrant, Jiménez grew up in El Paso, TX, where he learned to weld, wire, and airbrush in his father’s neon-sign shop. After receiving a BFA in 1964 at the University of Texas at Austin, and a brief stay in Mexico City, he moved to New York City where he worked with Seymour Lipton (1903–1986) and found success parodying 1960s American pop culture in his work.
In the early 1970s he returned to the Southwest (eventually dividing his time between El Paso and Hondo, NM), where he gained success and controversy as a sculptor of outdoor figures. Drawing inspiration from the social realist Mexican and Works Progress Administration (WPA) murals, he combined large scale, color, and pose to create a dramatic and heroic effect in his work. Like the New Mexican ...