César Manrique

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César Manrique (born April 24, 1919 in Arrecife , Lanzarote , Spain , † September 25, 1992 in Tahíche , Lanzarote; full name: César Manrique Cabrera ) was a Spanish painter , architect , sculptor and environmentalist on the Canary Island of Lanzarote who created the picture decisively shaped the volcanic island.


Manrique grew up in Puerto Naos, the old port of Arrecife, near the San Ginés lagoon, as the son of the sales representative Gumersindo Manrique and his wife Francisca Cabrera . He had three siblings, his brother Carlos , his sister Juana and his twin sister Amparo . Manrique attended school in Lanzarote. During the Spanish Civil War (July 1936 to April 1939) he fought as a volunteer on the side of the right-wing putschist Francisco Franco . He later completed a degree in civil engineering at the University of La Laguna in Tenerife . He got to know the works of Pablo Picasso , Henri Matisse and Georges Braque at an early age through magazines that his father brought back from business trips . Manrique spent the summer holidays with the family in the northwest of Lanzarote in Caleta de Famara , a small fishing village. The steep coast there and the rapidly changing weather conditions with their changing play of colors on the rocks impressed him in his youth. In 1942, at the age of 23, he had his first exhibition as an artist in Arrecife.

From 1945 he attended the Art Academy in Madrid , from which he graduated in 1950 with the master's degree in drawing and painting. In Madrid he met Pepi Gómez, with whom he had a close relationship for over 18 years until she died of cancer in 1963 .

Together with other like-minded artists, Manrique developed into a pioneer of avant-garde art and in 1954 opened Spain's first gallery for non-figurative art Fernando Fé in Madrid .

After the death of his lover, Manrique got into a creative crisis. In 1964 he used a grant from the International Institute of Art Education to study American art; in New York he was represented exclusively by the Catherine Viviano Gallery with three solo exhibitions. The encounter with Abstract Expressionism , represented by the artists Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko , as well as with Pop Art ( Andy Warhol , Robert Rauschenberg ), New Sculpture ( César , John Chamberlain ) and Kinetic Art was of great importance for the Development of his work.

In 1968 he finally returned to Lanzarote and decided to transform his home island into one of the most beautiful places in the world. For this plan he was able to win over Pepín Ramírez Cerdá, an old friend of the family who was now president of the island government. The plan included only allowing the traditional construction of Lanzarote, foregoing more than two-story structures and removing all advertising posters from the streets of the island. In 1968 the government issued a ban on the accumulation of advertisements. Manrique drove across the island himself to convince the population of the Lanzarote architectural style. In the same year, the Monumento del Campesino was built at the main Mozaga / San Bartolomé intersection , made of whitewashed old drinking water cans from disused fishing boats. Together with the artist and friend Luis Ibañez, he bought an old house in Yaiza , one of three that remained standing after the volcanic eruptions from 1730 to 1736. After initial plans to use the house as a studio , he converted it into the La Era restaurant in 1970 .

On a trip to Tahíche in 1970, Manrique discovered a fig tree , the green tip of which protruded from a solidified black lava flow . He decided to build his house at this point. The owners of the land did not want payment because they thought it was worthless, and even asked Manrique to take as much land as he needed. While building the house, the artist discovered a total of five lava caves, which he expanded and redesigned into various living spaces. His foundation was established here in 1982. In 1974 Manrique opened the El Almacén multi-purpose cultural center in Arrecife as an international meeting place for those interested in art. The art gallery El Aljibe should give artists the opportunity to exhibit their works for the first time in Lanzarote. In 1988 Manrique moved into a farmhouse in Haría that he had rebuilt and which has been a museum since 2013.

On September 25, 1992, Manrique was killed in a self-inflicted traffic accident about 45 meters from his foundation in Tahíche. At the scene of the accident there is now a roundabout with the Tahíche greyhound created by Manrique. Manrique was buried in the cemetery of Haría with a large participation of the population.

Manrique had numerous contacts with well-known personalities. He got to know Nelson Rockefeller , Rita Hayworth , Hussein I (Jordan) , Spain’s Prime Minister Felipe González , Luis Ibañez , Andy Warhol , Barbara Rosse and Alfredo Kraus , among others .

Manrique was responsible for ensuring that mass tourism on Lanzarote was moderate. He worked to preserve and maintain the scenic and cultural identity of his home island, which is why the island government posthumously declared him the island's preferred son in September 1995 , expressing its gratitude for the artist's lifetime achievement. At the same time, the island government committed itself to continue on Manrique's path in the future. Lanzarote was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993 because of its commitment to sustainable tourism .

Foundation: Fundación César Manrique

Entrance and building of the Fundación César Manrique

The Fundación César Manrique was founded by Manrique and a group of friends in 1982 and was officially inaugurated in March 1992. The Fundación is a private, cultural foundation that is financially self-supporting, does not pursue a profit-making purpose, and was created from the mandate of promoting and disseminating artistic activity and its natural and cultural environment. In order to meet its goals, the Manrique Foundation develops exchange programs in the fields of art, environment and culture. The foundation is not only intended as a forum for exhibitions, but also for studies and debates. She is concerned with the preservation, research and dissemination of Manrique's work.

Today the foundation is housed in the artist's house and in the associated farm buildings. The entire complex was redesigned by Manrique himself in order to adapt it to its new function as a museum.



Manrique understood art as a close, harmonious connection between man and nature. The association of piles of ash and rubble , which many tourists associate with the barreness of the volcanic island of Lanzarote, has displeased Manrique throughout his life. He felt his homeland as a wild and lively natural beauty that he wanted to transform into a special tourist attraction. Manrique designed several tourist attractions for Lanzarote and neighboring islands, including viewing platforms, gardens, restoring degraded areas and renewing the coastline.

The main feature of his architectural art is the integration of rocks, stone and solidified lava flows into a harmonious living space. He often used the unprocessed natural materials in contrast to round, soft, hand-made shapes. Often the colors black and gray (lava rock) and white (lime and lacquer) can be found. The atmosphere of these art rooms is usually accompanied by sensual, meditative music. Outside the rooms, Manrique had large wind chimes built, also on traffic islands , which the trade winds move.

Manrique saw himself first as a painter. He is credited with a pioneering role in the Spanish abstract art movement , and he is seen as a pioneer of surrealism . The simplicity and clarity of his paintings as well as his architectural works take up the symbiosis of man and nature and illustrate the natural beauties in a wide variety of ways. He left nature as it was and only tried to artistically frame its beauty in order to highlight it so that other people would enjoy it. The quote from Manrique To draw with absolute freedom, without fears and recipes, comforts the soul and opens a way for the joy of living , illustrates his joie de vivre and his attitude of uncompromisingly living and implementing what he thought.


in Lanzarote:

  • The farmhouse Casa Museo del Campesino was built in typical Lanzarote architecture.
  • Monumento del Campesino is a monument on the geographical center of Lanzarote, in honor of the Lanzarote farmers who discovered that lava grains are porous; With the lava grains, the dew can be absorbed to irrigate the fields, see Lanzarote . The monument consists of water tanks from abandoned fishing boats. The sculptures and wind chimes of Manrique are among the sights of Lanzarote.
  • LagOmar is a property nestled in a volcanic quarry in Nazareth . Manrique designed the property together with Jesús Soto , which was commissioned by the English real estate agent Sam Benady. Legend has it that Omar Sharif bought it and lost it in a bridge game on the same day .
  • Mirador del Río , built in 1973, is a lookout point on the Famara cliff with a view of the neighboring islands of La Graciosa , Montaña Clara , Alegranza , Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este . The viewing platform is where guns once stood and still stand a little to the north today, which were installed at the end of the 19th century - during the war between the USA and Cuba .
  • The Jameos del Agua lava tunnel was once littered by the people of Lanzarote. Manrique built a 600-seat concert hall here, which opened in 1977; a lagoon within a lava grotto houses a blind albino crab that actually only lives at depths of 2000 meters on the ocean floor. Jameos del Agua, with its salt lake, subtropical flora and the concert hall in the lava cave, is one of the visitor attractions on the island of Lanzarote.
  • The artfully laid out cactus garden Jardin de Cactus , for which the foundations were laid back in 1977, is located in the village of Guatiza within an abandoned quarry with more than 1100 different cactus species .
  • The Fundación César Manrique is located in Manrique's house, Taro de Tahíche, built in five lava bubbles . The art foundation houses numerous works by the artist and works by Picasso , Miró , Tapiés , Jesús Soto and Zobel.
  • El Diablo, the restaurant in the Timanfaya National Park, built in the middle of the active volcanoes , also known as the Montañas del Fuego (Mountains of Fire). A large barbecue area can be discovered above the volcanic air.
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art in the Castillo de San José, Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo, built in the military fortress in 1975 , houses paintings by Miró , Millares, Mompó, Óscar Domínguez , Gerardo Rueda, Eusebio Sempérez, Augustín Cárdena and Manrique himself.
  • El Almacén, the former multi-purpose cultural center in Arrecife , built in 1974, now houses the island government's cultural department.
  • The garden and swimming pool of the 5-star hotel Las Salinas in Costa Teguise were designed in 1977.
  • In 1990 the iron sculpture El triunfador was erected near the Fundación César Manrique.
  • In 1990 Manrique redesigned the BMW 730i into a BMW Art Car . When he was modifying a vehicle, he addressed a certain idea of ​​movement: "That is why my idea was to design the car in such a way that it gives the impression of gliding through space without any resistance." Generously curved lines, as they are for its architecture are typical, and bright colors associate a smooth movement.
  • In 1992 Manrique had the Juguetes del viento wind chimes made in the middle of a roundabout in Arrieta .

outside of Lanzarote:

Restaurant of the Mirador del Palmerejeo on La Gomera
  • Lago Martiánez (1971). The seawater swimming pools on Tenerife's north coast in Puerto de la Cruz became very attractive to tourists, as the natural bathing possibilities were rather dangerous for tourists until then.
  • La Vaguada (1983). A shopping center in Madrid .
  • Space flags for the astrophysical center " Roque de los Muchachos " (1985) on La Palma
  • La Peña (1989). A lookout point on El Hierro .
  • Mirador del Palmerejeo (1989). A lookout point on La Gomera .
  • Mirador de Morro Velosa (1997). The viewpoint was completed by the architect Blanca Cabrera Morales based on Manrique's sketches and drafts of a Canarian mansion and built together with the administration of Cabildo de Fuerteventura .


  • César Manrique: Arquitectura inédita (EV 1974, 2nd extended edition 1988)
  • César Manrique: Escrito en el fuego . Edirca, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1991


  • Manfred Sack : Cesar Manrique: painter & sculptor & architect. Photos: Walter Fogel. Heidelberg 1987.
  • Lazaro Santana: César Manrique. An art for life. Editorial Prensa Ibérica, 1993.
  • César Manrique, Lanzarote. Lancelot Internacional, 3rd edition, Lanzarote 1996 (special edition of the Lancelot Group magazine; Spanish, English and German).
  • Fernando Ruiz Gordillo: César Manrique. 9th edition. Edited by the Fundación César Manrique. Cromoimagen, Madrid 2008, ISBN 978-84-88550-07-1 (Spanish, German).
  • Veronika Reisenegger: Lanzarote. DuMont travel paperback series. DuMont Reiseverlag, Ostfildern 2011, ISBN 978-3-7701-7329-7 .
  • Alejandro Scarpa: César Manrique, acupuntura territorial en Lanzarote. Edited by Centros de Arte, Cultura y Turismo del Cabildo de Lanzarote. Arrecife 2019, ISBN 978-84-12-00223-2 (Spanish, with summaries in German, preview available online ).


In the 1979 ZDF series Timm Thaler , which made Thomas Ohrner a child star, the infernal domicile of the baron (played by Horst Frank ) is presented in a combination of three works of art by Manrique: Hotel Melia Salinas in Costa Teguise , Mirador del Río and Jameos del Agua .

Web links

Commons : César Manrique  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. CONCEPTNET GmbH www.conceptnet.de: Detailed view - Worth knowing - Worth knowing - Lanzarote 37 °. Retrieved March 11, 2020 .
  2. Fernando Ruiz Gordillo: César Manrique , pp. 9-15.
  3. Javier Duràn: Veinte años sin César . In: La Provincia. Diario de Las Palmas, September 20, 2012, accessed July 18, 2018
  4. ^ Karl Kunze: César Manrique . In: Lanzarote37 ° , April 20, 2010, accessed February 23, 2018 (offline)
  5. Fernando Ruiz Gordillo: César Manrique , p. 19 ff.
  6. Fernando Ruiz Gordillo: César Manrique , p. 29.
  7. Biography - Fundación César Manrique. Retrieved on March 11, 2020 (German).
  8. ^ Süddeutsche Zeitung: Lanzarote celebrates the "island saint" César Manrique. Retrieved March 11, 2020 .
  9. The BMW Art Car Manriques .