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César Manrique Foundation: A fascinating art museum in Lanzarote - Spain Travel Guide

Travel Guide / Canary Islands Accommodation

The César Manrique Foundation offers a fascinating art gallery and museum, situated in the studio and home where the artist once lived.  Based in Taro de Tahiche on the Canary island of Lanzarote, the house is a work of art in itself and probably best represents Manrique’s personal and artistic ideals.

Cesar Manrique Foundation - Click for larger imageThe house was built in 1968 on the top of, and around, a volcanic trail, originally caused by an eruption back in 1730-36.  The lower level of the house is formed naturally from five volcanic bubbles, making an unusual and natural living space.

The central bubble in the house offers a spacious relaxation area with swimming pool, dining room, barbeque and even a small dance floor.  Another bubble contains the painter’s old studio.

The exterior of the house and the upper level are inspired by the traditional Lanzarote architecture.  The lush garden (pictured top) displays a mural painted by the artist.

Cesar Manrique Foundation - Click for larger imageThe César Manrique Foundation was created in 1992 when Manrique died at the age of 73.  It is a non-profit, private institution receiving around 300,000 visitors every year.  The foundation's focus is the arts, the natural environment and  cultural reflection, and the foundation does much important work in the fields of plastic arts, culture and the environment. 

Besides displaying the work of Manrique himself, the gallery also includes original sketches by the well known Spanish artists, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. 

Money raised through ticket sales is used to raise awareness to the art of the island as well as to fund the foundation's "artistic, cultural and environmental activities."

Cesar Manrique Foundation - Click for larger imageManrique was one of the first to recognize the tourist potential in Lanzarote and successfully lobbied with the island’s authorities to encourage the sympathetic development of tourism.  At that time, this meant no high-rise hotels on the island and the hotels that did exist were in keeping with the traditional colours of the island.

Cesar Manrique Foundation - Click for larger imageSince its inception, the foundation has gone on to oppose the more recent, ongoing spread of high-rise concrete buildings across both the Spanish coastline and the island itself.

The foundation has recently brought to light the existence of  24 illegally erected hotels on the island of Lanzarote.

The artist:

Born in Arrecife, Lanzarote on April 24, 1919, César Manrique first fought in the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer in the artillery unit under Franco.

He then attended the University of La Laguna to study architecture, leaving his studies after two years. In 1945, Manrique moved to Madrid and received a scholarship from the Art School of San Fernando, where he eventually graduated as a teacher of art and painting.

During the years between 1964 and 1966, Manrique lived in New York where he received a grant from Nelson Rockefeller, allowing him to rent his own studio in the city.  He painted many works in New York, which were then exhibited in the Catherine Viviano gallery in the city.

Manrique passed away at the age of 73 in a car accident close to the house, which was, at the time, his Lanzarote home.

Enjoy the video below, which takes you on a brief tour of this fascinating house:


Photo credits:

1. Garden and mural Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Gernot Keller, London
2. Living space public domain
3. Living space 2 CC by-SA wollex
4. Lava seemingly flowing into the house and artwork portrait photo CC by-SA Balou46

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Latest update:  November 30, 2014