Luis Jiménez was the son of a Mexican immigrant and growing up was influenced by muralists like José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. He was best known for brightly colored, large-scale, cast-fiberglass sculptures based on subjects not typically featured in contemporary art, such as the everyday lives of immigrants and laborers. Both Study for Sculpture—Buffalo and a related lithograph, Steelworker, relate to a sculpture he was commissioned to design for the City of Buffalo by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) in 1982. Study for Sculpture—Buffalo most closely resembles the completed work, which was ultimately not purchased for Buffalo (editions of the sculpture are on view in Boston and Birmingham). In Jiménez's first designs, he imagined a shirtless man with a large wrench; the print Steelworker is based on those studies. However, he was encouraged by those in the steel industry to make the representation more realistic by adding safety gear and replacing the worker's wrench with a ladle. These studies and the finished monumental sculpture of an African-American steelworker valorize American laborers and particularly the workers of Buffalo.
Label from Overtime: The Art of Work, March 8–May 17, 2015