Biography and trajectories of Cesar Manrique

Discover in this article the complete biography of Cesar Manrique, also his career as a painter and sculptor.

César Manrique was born in Arrecife on April 24, 1919. At that time his parents lived in the Charco de San Ginés. His father was a merchant, his grandfather was a notary and one of his grandmothers came from Seville, while his family was originally from Castile. Manrique had two sisters, one of them his twin, and a brother.


Cesar Manrique's story


After studying primary and secondary school, he went to the University of La Laguna to study technical architecture, but after two years he abandoned them and, in 1945, he entered the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, graduating five more years later as a drawing and painting teacher, when he was 23 years old he held his first pictorial exhibition in Arrecife sponsored by Pepin Ramírez This childhood friend would later become one of the most prestigious politicians that the island has given, allowing César Manrique will make his creations in Lanzarote.


"When I was a child I spent summers in Famara, a small fishing village on the northeast coast of Lanzarote. The beauty of the environment made a strong impression on me, especially the imposing Riscos de Famara, before which I spent endless hours captivated by their reflection On the wet sand at empty tide
I drank from the colors of that microcosm contained between the sky, the sea and the Riscos de Famara, I looked around among the flora and fauna and was marked by the textures of the earth. Those happy summers of my childhood later motivated my work in defense of nature. "


Surrealism was incorporated into world art in 1954, the date on which Manrique, together with a group of like-minded artists, created the avant-garde of abstract art and opened the first non-figurative gallery in Spain, called Fernando Fé. This artistic movement was born in a particularly difficult time just 15 years after the Civil War ended, at the moment of the beginning of the international consolidation of the dictatorship of General Franco.
In 1964 Manrique went to the United States invited by Nelson Rockefeller, who had acquired some of his paintings. He exhibited in Houston and New York, where the prestigious Catherine Viviano gallery represented him exclusively for the next four years.

In 1966, he returned permanently to Lanzarote. Manrique develops an intense work as a creator of spaces. However, despite this occupation, he will never abandon his status. From the late 1960s to the early 1990s, his plastic activity, always material and abstract, continues to be characterized by experimentation with matter, as well as the recovery of color from the 1950s.


One of the first things that Manrique tried and succeeded in was to convince his countrymen of the importance of relying on traditional architecture for the construction of houses, as well as eradicating the use of billboards from the landscape and roads.

For several years I worked on the creation of unique urban spaces that were perfectly integrated into the environment of the island of Lanzarote, thus, in collaboration with the island council whose president at that time was his friend Pepín Ramírez, since the late 1960s several works in different parts of the island: the house-museum El campesino, the Fecundity sculpture is installed, the works of El Diablo Restaurant, Timanfaya, Mirador del Río, Jameos del Agua, rehabilitation of the castle of San José begin construction of its Taro de Tahiche house, which later became the Foundation that bears his name. And later the Cactus Garden and his house in Haría.


He also opened a multidisciplinary cultural center called El Almacén that has reopened its doors a few days ago, after a period of reforms, it continued with its pictorial creation and exhibiting abroad for several years, even creating and collaborating with many projects in the Canary Islands, peninsula and europe.


I fight for ecological conservation, already at a time when the words ecology and environment were not as common as now, and had to face justice, for his actions in defense of that conviction. He was a man consistent with what he said and in the realization of his work integrated into nature, he never added anything to what nature had created, he limited himself to highlighting its beauty.

He received a large number of awards and the recognition of personalities from various countries.

He tragically died in a traffic accident on September 25, 1992.




Career as a painter:


Cesar considered himself a painter, despite demonstrating his mastery in multiple facets as a sculptor, decorator, urban planner, architect, etc.

That is why we will use painting to follow the evolution of the artist over the years in which we can observe three fundamental periods.

The beginning of the first stage can be made to coincide with his scholarship in 1945 in Madrid where he entered the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts and where he began an intense artistic activity.

Later in 1965 he moved to New York where he lived until 1968. Years that he considered the most instructive of his life and related to personalities from the cultural world and artistic trends of the time.

"In Lanzarote is my truth". New York fascinated him but at the same time he was disturbed by the spiritual emptiness he felt in that artificial, crowded and competitive world. He returned to Lanzarote in 1968 and thus began his third stage and conceived his aesthetic ideology:
art- nature / nature-art

In addition, César created countless logos and symbols for commercial companies on the island and outside the island. that have become an unmistakable seal

At the inauguration of the Roque de los Muchachos astronomical observatory, I designed a set of flags of the cosmos that will shortly be incorporated into these pages.




Career as a sculptor:


Sculptures integrated into their spatial interventions either as a signaling element or as an introductory element to the environment in which we are going to immerse ourselves.

An important part of César Manrique's sculpture is made up of mobiles, what he called Toy of the Wind.

They are solid, heavy iron structures, made up of spheres, circles, pyramids ... With the wind they become ethereal, weightless, and establish a complicated opposite rotational movement, interpreting each other.

He had undoubtedly associated his image with that of the windmills, very abundant in Lanzarote in the past. I wanted to populate that geography with these substitute references, given the slow disappearance of the mills. His plans included the installation of Toy of the Wind at various strategic points throughout the island.

In 1990 he installed one in Arrieta: a heavy and spectacular iron "weather vane" painted red that moves smoothly indicating the direction of the wind.

He left several sketches. Subsequently, the workshops of the Cabildo de Lanzarote, where a good part of his previous sculptures were executed, have been built and located throughout the island.

Other sculptures of other styles (pop, post-cubist), with materials such as iron, wood, concrete, found materials, complement the spatial environments created by him, integrating fully into them.

Cesar created countless logos and symbols for commercial companies on the island and outside the island. that have become an unmistakable seal

At the inauguration of the Roque de los Muchachos astronomical observatory, I designed a set of flags of the cosmos that will soon be incorporated into these pages

The facilities that currently make up the headquarters of the César Manrique Foundation are made up of the artist's house, the rooms occupied by the domestic service and the garages. The whole of the mentioned space was recycled by César Manrique himself to reconvert it to its new function as a museum space and administrative and service infrastructure. As soon as the entrance gate has been passed, the first facilities that the visitor finds on their left house the offices of the institution. Previously, the staff who attended the artist resided in them.