Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the masterpieces of César Manrique, an artist who merges the local nature with art.
He did not create in nature but rather with it, and his relationship with the landscape 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.
Lanzarote cannot be conceived without the contribution of César Manrique. The artist was fascinated by Lanzarote’s unique volcanic landscape. While others saw it as a desert, arid and inhospitable, for him that volcanic nature was a synonym of beauty, and he created his work with respect, admiration and gratitude for his native environment.
How can his work be defined? It is difficult to answer that question, and even harder to slot Manrique’s work into other artistic currents and techniques. 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 cave, where he created a natural auditorium, perfectly integrated in a space shaped at random by volcanic activity. The space is universally admired for its beauty and contrasts of light and colour. This work is an excellent example of a constant theme in Manrique’s art: creating spaces where the human contribution is harmoniously integrated with the natural environment, enhancing its beauty and qualities.
The Río viewing point is another of his projects in Lanzarote, skilfully integrated into the cliffs on the north of the island. From here you can see one of the most spectacular views of Lanzarote: the Chinijo Archipelago and Risco de Famara Natural Park. His own home in Taro de Tahíche is perhaps the work which best represents Manrique’s personal and artistic ideals: it expresses his fascination with volcanic rock, and is an exceptional example of a home integrated in nature, a bubble 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 to research and disseminate Manrique’s work, and to promote artistic and cultural activity that encourages respect for the environment. 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.
His Monument to Farm Workers and his Cactus Garden are among other works that can be visited on Lanzarote. Manrique also left a major legacy off the island.