Known for such modernist political and figurative sculptures as La Maternidad and Seated Yucatan Woman, he received a prestigious 1958 honor from the Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts.
He studied briefly at Mexico's Escuela de Bellas Artes, but dropped out in favor of conducting his own study of German expressionist art.
He was the 1992 recipient of Mexico's National Prize for Arts and Sciences. His sculptures, paintings, and drawings were given permanent homes at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Mexico City's Museo de Arte Moderno, among other museums.
Born in Costa Rica to sculptor parents, he moved permanently to Mexico in the mid-1930s. His marriage to Elena Laborde resulted in three children: Marcela, Ariel, and Javier.
He was influenced by the work of French sculptor Aristide Maillol.