Max Jiménez

Del Agua al Cielo by Max Jimenez
Del Agua al Cielo by Max Jimenez

During his relatively short life, Max Jiménez became one of the most important writers, painters and sculptors in Costa Rica.

When It All Began

Jiménez was born in San José on April 16, 1900 to parents Roberto Jiménez and Ana Huete. In 1921, he traveled to Paris, France, where he studied drawing, painting and sculpting. Over the course of the next several years, he staged several exhibitions of his work, drawing positive reviews from French critics. Just a few years later, however, Jiménez was forced to return to Costa Rica due to financial difficulties.

Writing Skills

Following his return to Costa Rica in 1925, Jiménez continued producing art. During this period, he also laid the foundation for his subsequent career as an author, writing articles about the relationship between art and the working class. These pieces were featured in publications like "Diario de Costa Rica" and "Repertorio Americano" in 1927. Just one year later, Jiménez published his first novel. Titled "Unos Fantoches" ("A Puppet"), the book's story of a love triangle led to a great scandal, leading the work to be removed from many Costa Rican bookstores.

After the publication of his novel, Jiménez traveled to Europe, where he released a new book of poetry. In 1929, he met a group of influential writers at a literary salon in Spain, and he published a second anthology of poetry the following year. Jiménez then left Europe for New York, where he studied wood engraving and oil painting at the Art Students League. Over the next several years, Jiménez traveled to Paris and Havana, Cuba, where he staged several well-received exhibitions of his paintings and other work.

Creative Crisis

Jiménez departed Havana in 1945, once again returning to his homeland of Costa Rica. Here, he staged another exhibition of 21 paintings that had previously been put on display in France and Cuba. Although his work had debuted to great critical acclaim abroad, Costa Rican critics were less impressed, plunging Jiménez into a creative and existential crisis. In the wake of his unsuccessful exhibit, he traveled through Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he died in 1947 at the age of 47.

Unique Sculptures

Overall, Jiménez's work is considered to be avant-garde, with many of his paintings centering on themes of the tropics and black residents of the Caribbean. His sculptures are known for their use of distortion and volume, setting them apart from pieces made by other sculptors of the time.