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César Manrique: Lanzarote’s Legendary Artist

March 28, 2019

Lanzarote’s cultural wealth and status as a laid-back destination largely unruffled by major mass tourism has a lot to do with one man, César Manrique. The native Lanzaroteño artist made it his life’s passion to preserve Lanzarote’s charms and use it as his canvas for eye-catching artworks and ambitious architectural projects.

From his wind sculptures (pictured above) to his work creating the unique Jameos Del Agua and beyond, Manrique is at the heart of Lanzarote’s cultural capital. In this post, we’re unravelling his impact on the island – and how you can see it for yourself during your stay in one of our Lanzarote villas.

A native son

Manrique was born in 1919 in Arrecife, during a time when the island was somewhat of a backwater with no airport, few large settlements and no artistic pedigree whatsoever. The young artist went on to study in Madrid, before moving to New York City in the 1960s to further hone his craft.
It would be upon his return, however, where he would make his name as a passionate defender of Lanzarote’s landscape. He led the campaign to ban high-rise buildings from Lanzarote, and he’s also the reason why you won’t find any billboards on the island either.

Architectural pedigree

One of the most mind-bending things to do in Lanzarote is to visit the Jameos Del Agua – an art, culture and tourism centre designed by Manrique, which is hewn out of the volcanic caves present in the north of the island. Jameos Del Agua is home to a unique species of blind crab (Munidopsis Polimorpha), which inhabit the rock pools present amongst the chambers, as well as enough room for plenty of eclectic events, from music to theatre and beyond.

Manrique also designed the Mirador del Rio, a viewpoint at the top of the Risco de Famara, which is arguably his signature work. Camouflaged in the volcanic basalt, the view takes in El Rio, the narrow stretch of sea separating Lanzarote from its sister islet La Graciosa. The interior is full of beguiling sculptures and unique design features, as well as a bar cafe – making it the perfect venue for a romantic meal overlooking the landscape beneath.

Both of these sites are Lanzarote day trip essentials, so we’d recommend packing up the hire car and making a full day of it.

A playful legacy

One of Manrique’s final projects was his ‘wind toy’ sculptures – giant mobiles that move in Lanzarote’s sometimes formidable Atlantic winds – dreamed up partly due to the paucity of traditional windmills on the island. The first wind toy was placed in Arrieta, and now there’s several dotted across the island, produced from drawings the artist left after his tragic death in a car accident in 1992.

These playful reminders of Manrique’s inimitable style and affinity for the island are well worth an afternoon’s culture crawl to visit – you’ll be spellbound by these ethereal sculptures as they dance in the wind.

The Cesar Manrique Foundation

Of course, a Manrique-themed visit to Lanzarote isn’t complete without visiting his home, the base of his eponymous foundation, which focuses on preserving Lanzarote’s natural beauty and campaigns against high-rise concrete all over Spain.

César Manrique House is formed out of volcanic bubbles and epitomises his focus on harmony between man, art and nature. This enchanting home is filled with artworks from his fellow Spanish creatives Picasso and Miró, as well as a planted garden framed by a beautiful, multicoloured mural (pictured below).

Multicoloured wall mural

So, what are you waiting for? Indulge your inner culture vulture and book a trip to explore this groundbreaking creative’s legacy. Browse our full range of villas today to make it a relaxing stay in pure privacy.

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