SAN ANTONIO, TX.-
With the recent acquisition and installation of Man On Fire and the opening of Native Son: Prints and Drawings by Luis A. Jiménez Jr., the McNay
invites visitors to join in celebration of the work and life of Luis A. Jiménez Jr., one of the leading contemporary sculptors and draftsmen to hail from the state of Texas.
Born in El Paso, Texas, the son of a sign maker, Jiménez was inspired by the flashing neon signs his father made, and the brightly colored lowriders of his youth. The artist, who died in a studio accident in 2006, is renowned for his sometimes controversial painted fiberglass sculptures, as well as for his brilliant prints and drawings. Along with the McNay, his art is included in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the National Museum of American Art, both in Washington D.C.; as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art located in New York.
Man on Fire showcases another side to Jiménez's art in the form of a rare bronze sculpture. Conceived as one of five possible castings, this is the only cast currently in existence and the only one produced during the artist's lifetime. Standing at a little over seven feet tall, the sculpture is based on the historical figure of Cuauhtémoc, a young Aztec ruler who organized the people of present-day Mexico City to drive out the occupying Spaniards during the 16th century. He was later captured and tortured by Hernán Cortés' army who set fire to his feet. The sculpture is both breathtaking and poignant as Jiménez connects the elements of flesh and fire, and represents not only Cuauhtémoc's suffering, but the triumph of the human spirit as well.
"We are delighted to add this important work by Jiménez to the Russell Hill Rogers Sculpture Collection of the McNay," said William J. Chiego, Director of the McNay. "A work of universal meaning, it is also one of the artist's best and most expressive works. The concurrent exhibition of his prints and drawings from our collection demonstrates his remarkable draftsmanship and is a further indication of the McNay's commitment to his work."
Man on Fire has a strong resonance with other works in the collection, particularly the McNay's drawing, Old Lady with the Cat, which is currently on view in Native Son: Prints and Drawings by Luis A. Jiménez Jr. The drawing is a portrait of Jiménez's grandmother who often read to him stories of the conquest of Mexico, including Cuauhtémoc's proud perseverance during his torture. The exhibition also includes a diptych and two recently acquired preparatory drawings for one of Jiménez's last prints, which serve as an example and highlight one of the growing strengths of the McNay's print collection: contemporary Latino printmaking. This is the first time these acquisitions are on view at the McNay.
Man on Fire has been acquired through the generosity of the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts and is installed on the Brown Foundation Sculpture Terrace. It is the seventh major sculpture acquisition for the McNay grounds made possible by the Rogers fund. Native Son: Prints and Drawings by Luis A. Jiménez Jr., will be on view in the Butt Paperwork's Gallery until January 19, 2014.