CACT Lanzarote > César Manrique

César Manrique

César Manrique was the artist, painter, sculptor, landscape artist and universal creator who developed in Lanzarote, his native island, the maximum expression of the union of art, the hand of man and nature.

He was born on April 24, 1919 in Arrecife, and from an early age, he showed his talent for drawing and his admiration for artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Braque. His childhood was spent between El Charco de San Ginés and La Caleta de Famara, a place that inspired his later link with the defense of the island’s natural heritage.

At a very young age he participated in the Spanish Civil War, where he lived an atrocious experience that he never wanted to talk about. Later he began to study Technical Architecture at the University of La Laguna, but after two years he abandoned his studies to move to Madrid, where, thanks to a scholarship, he entered the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes (“School of Fine Arts”) of San Fernando.

He graduated as Professor of Art and Painting in 1945, making then his first interventions in Lanzarote and exhibiting his painting frequently, both inside and outside Spain.

In 1964 he moved to New York, the Mecca of Modern Art at the time, where he was able to enrich himself with the artistic currents of the time, exhibiting, among others, at the Catherine Viviano Gallery. His direct knowledge of American abstract expressionism, pop art, new sculpture and kinetic art provided him with a visual culture that would be fundamental for his later creative career.

However, Manrique began to miss the exultant volcanic nature of Lanzarote, as well as the purity and kindness of its inhabitants in comparison with the society of New York, which he perceived as frivolous and artificial, realizing the imperious need of human beings to return to the earth, to feel it and smell it.

In 1966 he decided to return to the island to settle there. It is then, coinciding with the beginning of the projection of Lanzarote in the tourism industry, that in collaboration with the Cabildo of Lanzarote, chaired by José Ramírez, César Manrique promotes a series of artistic projects aimed at enhancing the landscape and natural beauty of the island, reflecting his ethical philosophy through groundbreaking interventions for the time that only a genius could devise.

In this way a new aesthetic ideology was elaborated that Manrique called Art-Nature, integrating different artistic manifestations to give rise to unique works of art without precedent in Spain. And together with his collaborators Antonio Álvarez, Luis Morales, Jesús Soto and valuable workers of proven expertise in different trades, he launched an ambitious creative project of intervention in the territory whose main axis was the preservation and beautification of the natural environment itself.

This is how the CACTs were born: the Art, Culture and Tourism Centers of the Cabildo of Lanzarote, which today constitute the main tourist reference on the island, a perfect combination of art and nature that protects and frames the volcanic beauty of Lanzarote.

The love that the artist felt for Lanzarote always defined each of his creations. In all of them, he sought an extremely respectful and enriching dialogue with the environment and nature, and at the same time, he kept alive the architectural values of the island’s tradition; highlighting the personality of Lanzarote in such a way that, without his work, it would be impossible to imagine today the island, which he took as a fundamental reference not only in his art, but also in his own existence.

César Manrique died on September 25, 1992, victim of an accident when he was leaving the foundation that bears his name. At the age of 73, he was still fully active in the cultural, artistic and environmental world of the Canary Islands, where his loss provoked a very strong and moving shock.

The people of Lanzarote remember him since then as an authentic explosion of life; a contagious expression of enthusiasm that was transmitted through his generous love for art, for nature and for his island.

César Manrique will always remain alive thanks to his work, through which he gave part of his soul, his vision of genius and his creative heart, making Lanzarote his entire canvas, and impregnating the CACT of its essence so that every visitor, whether canary or traveler, can remember it today, relive it or discover it.

Biography written by Mercedes Parrilla Álvarez, with immense love and admiration.

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