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In Celebration of Luis Jimenez (1940-2006)

Luis Jimenez
modeled 1980

Luis Jimenez "Vaquero" modeled 1980, cast 1987-1988 Polychrome fiberglass

Luis Jimenez
modeled 1980, cast 1987-1988
Polychrome fiberglass

Today is the birthday of Luis Jimenez, (1940-2006), creator of Vaquero, the sculpture that stands in the Twin Bridges area south of the Museum. Here are a few fun facts about this remarkable artist:

  • Jimenez was born in El Paso, Texas in 1940. He began working in his father’s sign shop when he was six, where he became familiar with many of the materials he would later use in his art.


  • He studied art and architecture at the University of Texas, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1964.


  • Jimenez studied art in Mexico City for two years before moving to New York City in 1966, where he served as an assistant to sculptor Seymour Lipton in the late 1960s. (Crystal Bridges has several of Lipton’s sculptures included in our collection.)


  • After living in New York for a time, Jimenez realized the necessity of getting back to his roots and returned home to the southwest. He became an accomplished artist and also taught art at the University of Arizona and later the University of Houston.


  • The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., honored Mr. Jimenez’s sculpture, Man on Fire, in 1979, when it became part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art.


  • One of his most prominent works is Mustang, a 32-foot-tall sculpture of a rearing blue horse with glowing red eyes that was commissioned in 1992 by the city of Denver for its new airport.

In June, 2006, during the removal of Mustang from Jimenez’s studio in Hondo, NM, part of the work slipped off a hoist, pinning the artist against a beam and severing an artery.  Jimenez died of blood loss from the injury in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Upon Jimenez’s death, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson ordered the state’s flags to be flown at half-staff for two days. Earlier this year, Crystal Bridges won an award from the Arkansas Museums Association for the conservation work that was conducted on Vaquero.  You can read about it here.