CÉSAR MANRIQUE

Life and works

Cesar Manrique Cabrera was a Spanish sculptor, painter, and artist. He was born in Arrecife, Lanzarote,, on April 24, 1919, and died in Teguise on September 25, 1992. He reconciled his work around environmental values of Canarias, and as a creative space sought harmony between nature and art. At a young age it was evident he had a talent for drawing, and looked up to artist like Picasso and Matisse.

At the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, he enlisted as a volunteer to fight on Franco´s side. He served in the Ceuta artillery unit, and later fought on different fronts in the Peninsula.

After the war, he enrolled at the University of La Laguna to study technical architecture, but after two years he left and moved to Madrid. He received a scholarship from the Captaincy General of the Canary Islands, and attended the school of Fine Arts of San Fernando, where he graduated as a professor of art and painting in 1945.

He lived in Madrid from 1945 to 1964. During those years he completed his studies at the school of  Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid and exhibited his paintings inside and outside of Spain. During the first half of the 50´s he delved into the non-figurative art and investigated the qualities of matter to make it the essential protagonist of his compositions, thus linking himself to the Spanish informalist movement of those years. With the rise of Surrealism in the 50´s he founded the Fernando Fe gallery, the first non-figurative Gallery in Spain.

During that time he produced murals in Lanzarote, like the ones seen at the Guacimeta Airport, and the parador of Tourism in Arrecife, and exhibited his work in several countries.

In 1964, he moved to New York where he had three solo exhibitions at the Gallery of Catherine Viviano. He had connection with American artists and his knowledge in abstract expressionism, Pop art, the new sculpture and kinetic art, provided him a fundamental visual for his own creative trajectory.

César Manrique 1968
César Manrique pintando

In 1966, he moved back to Lanzarote indefinitely, where he began to develop the tourism sector.  He promoted a series of spatial and landscape artistic projects, and developed his thinking in plastic and ethics. In 1973, he began to collaborate with architect Fernando Higueras. Both undertook diverse projects there, starting with works of the Mirador del Rio. They were a set of actions and interventions aimed at enhancing the landscape and natural wonders of the island that form part of the transformation of the island due to its tourism economy.

During the 70´s and 80´s he is seen as the creator where space perfectly integrates in its natural environment. He also took part in different projects in other islands like Lago Martinez (1977), and in Madrid at the Shopping Center LA Vaguada (1983).

He developed a new aesthetic ideology that he called art-nature/nature-art, into which he incorporated different artistic manifestations that he was able to execute in his landscape works (viewpoints, gardens, refurbishment of degraded spaces, coastal reforms, etc.) carried out both in Lanzarote and on other islands and outside the Canaries, in which he preserved his basic characteristics features: respectful dialogue with the natural environment and between the architectural values of local tradition and modern concepts.

In 1988, he moved to his new house in Haría, built and decorated by Manrique, and published Escrito en el fuego.

He died in a car accident on 25th September 1992 near the headquarters of the foundation that bears his name that was inaugurated in March of that year.

The César Manrique Foundation, located in the artist’s former Taro Tahíche residence, today houses his works (sculptures, drawings, paintings, etc.) and other artists’ works.

“Lanzarote is the most beautiful place on Earth. I realized that if people were capable of seeing the island through my eyes, then they would think the same. Since then my objetive was to show the world the beauty of Lanzarote.

“When I returned from New York, my intention was to rurn my home island into one of the most beautiful places on the planet, given the infinite possibilities offered by Lanzarote”

  • El Taro de Tahíche (1968). His house, built by making the most of the natural space from five volcanic bubbles. It is the current headquarters of the César Manrique Foundation and is where part of the artist’s body of work can be seen, along with other artists’ work that belongs to the foundation. It has over 3,280 feet of liveable surface area on two levels.
  • Del Río Viewpoint (1973): This is located in the north of the island at Risco de Famara. Excavated from the rock of a cliff in the place where an old coastal artillery battery was located, it has a privileged view of the Chinijo archipelago. It has a restaurant with several terraces and large windows. It comprises two buried domes to reduce the visual impact.

  • Lago Martiánez (1977). Located in Puerto de la Cruz. This is a leisure complex comprising an artificial central lake with a complex of swimming pools, gardens, terraces and restaurants, whose main feature is the volcanic rock. It is also home to a series of sculptures and monuments created by César Manrique himself. get your ticket now

  • Hotel las Salinas Gardens and Swimming Pools (1977). In Costa Teguise, along with a series of murals. The hotel project, rationalist in nature, is the work of Fernando Higueras.

  • La Vaguada de Madrid Shopping Centre (1983). This was the first shopping center in Spain to be perfectly integrated into its natural setting.

  • De La Peña Viewpoint (1989). On El Hierro Island. It is home to a restaurant with large windows and views of the El Golfo Valley.

  • Cactus Garden (1990). Constructed in what was an old Guatiza quarry. César Manrique’s last work in Lanzarote. The garden is home to a large amount of cactus species from the Canaries and other parts of the world.

  • El Diablo Ove-Grill in Timanfaya. A gastronomic establishment located in Timanfaya National Park, whose special feature is an oven-grill that uses geothermal energy to cook food.

  • Jardín Beach. The artist returned to Puerto de la Cruz in 1992. This beach was totally renovated: spacious garden spaces, bars and restaurants, breakwater, etc.

  • Marítimo Park. Leisure zone in Santa Cruz de Tenerife conceived in the early 1990s and leading to the regeneration of the coast. Swimming pools, fountains, etc. with the respect for nature that characterised the artist.

  • El Palmarejo Veiwpoint (1989). At La Gomera. Opened in 1995. Perfectly integrated into the landscape and home to a restaurant-school.

  • Parque Marítimo del Mediterráneo. Opened in 1995 in the autonomous city of Ceuta. Very similar to the Martiánez Complex in Puerto de la Cruz: lakes, gardens, solaria, etc.

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