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The work of César Manrique in Lanzarote

  • Jameos del Agua, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

    Jameos del Agua, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

  • View from the Mirador del Río viewing point. Ye, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

    View from the Mirador del Río viewing point. Ye, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

  • Natural lake inside the Jameos del Agua cave. Haría, Lanzarote © Turespaña

    Natural lake inside the Jameos del Agua cave. Haría, Lanzarote © Turespaña

  • Casa de las Palmeras. César Manrique museum house, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

    Casa de las Palmeras. César Manrique museum house, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

  
  


"Lanzarote can not be conceived without the contribution of César Manrique. The artist was fascinated by the unique nature of Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape. ..."

Lanzarote can not be conceived without the contribution of César Manrique. The artist was fascinated by the unique nature of Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape. Whilst others saw it as a desert, arid and inhospitable, he saw that volcanic nature as a synonym of beauty and, in the respect, admiration and gratitude for that landscape where he had grown up, created his art.

How can his work be defined? It is difficult to answer that question and, more so, straightjacket Manrique’s work within artistic currents and techniques used. Although he defined himself as a painter, it is true he was also a sculptor, architect, town planner, landscaper, ecologist and a monument curator. Manrique was all these things and this is what his work reveals.

His first and perhaps most spectacular work in Lanzarote was the Jameos del Agua grotto, with the creation of a perfectly integrated natural auditorium in a whimsical volcanic formation. Its beauty and contracts of light and colours make it a universally admired work. It largely summarises what Manrique did throughout his life: spatial composition where human additions were harmoniously integrated into the natural setting, extolling beauty and value.

The Río vantage point is another of his projects in Lanzarote, magnificently integrated into the cliffs on the north of the island. His own home in Taro de Tahiche is perhaps the work which best represents Manrique’s personal and artistic ideals: it expresses his longing to live with lava, making it an exceptional example of integration of a home in nature, an oasis in the middle of a river of blue-black lava.

At present, it is the headquarters of the César Manrique Foundation, set up in 1992 with the aim of driving the research and promotion of the work of Manrique, as well as the promotion of environmentally-friendly artistic and cultural activity. The building was constructed in 1968 on a lava outflow and takes advantage, on the lower level, of the natural formation of five volcanic bubbles to create a surprising liveable space; the upper level and exterior of the house are inspired by traditional island architecture.

The monument to Farm workers, the cactus garden are other works that can be visited in Lanzarote. Manrique also left a major legacy off the island. Highlights of his spatial work include the spectacular vantage point of La Peña (El Hierro), the Palmarejo vantage point (La Gomera), the Maritime Park of Puerto de la Cruz and Playa Jardín (Tenerife), La Vanguada Shopping Centre (Madrid) and the large Mediterranean Maritime Park (Ceuta). All are public spaces, works of architecture and town planning, although he was always criticised for not having exact architectural knowledge. Manrique never debated this criticism and limited himself to stating he was an artist and expressed himself at all times with the media he believed appropriate. In any case, it is true that all these works are truly unique where the natural setting is the main protagonist.

In short, for César Manrique nature was not only the main reference point for his artistic creation but also for his life. He did not create in nature but rather with it, and his relationship with the environment was not simply aesthetic but also a truly exemplary commitment to defending the environment. There is no other Spanish artist whose work is so intimately linked with nature.

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