The César Manrique Foundation has set up a fascinating museum and art gallery on the island of Lanzarote which offers the possibility to visit an artistic home, quite literally embedded in nature. This beautifully designed building was the artist’s home and studio and is located in Taro de Tahiche on this Spanish island.
The César Manrique Foundation was formed when the 73-year-old artist passed away in a car accident, close to his home. It epitomizes Manrique’s work, his ethics and his personal artistic ideals. Not only does the house display art – the design and the furnishings themselves are masterpieces, embedded into an unusual location.
While the house on the outside, and on the top level, is an example of the typical Lanzarote architecture (see above), the lower level is somewhat different. When Manrique chose the location for his home back in 1968, he decided to build on top of, and around, an existing volcanic lava flow, caused by an eruption back in or around the year 1730.
For this reason, while the top floor looks very attractive, but relatively normal, below Manrique has used five lava bubbles to create fascinating living spaces, a photo of one of which is included at the top of this article and others are included below.
The public has access to the central bubble, which Manrique converted into a spacious entertainment and living area, offering a living room and dining room, as well as an outside area with barbeque, swimming pool and even a dance floor for those regular parties the artist used to throw.
These rooms are the epitome of an artistic home, built using art in and among nature and now maintained by the César Manrique Foundation, which can be seen on a visit to the island of Lanzarote. One of the other lava bubbles worth a visit is the artist’s original studio with everything left just as it was on the day he died.
Within the house, art and design work by Manrique himself can be enjoyed, but it is also possible to view original sketches by the popular and famous Spanish artists, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso.
The design of the building itself is fascinating, with curved and well lit tunnels moving between the lava bubbles on the lower level. Above ground has not been ignored entirely in Manrique’s artistic endeavors, as in the lush and beautiful garden, where local flora is flourishing, a wall has been decorated with a beautiful and colorful mural by the artist.
A little history of the artist: Manrique was born in Arrecife on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands of Spain on April 24, 1919. After a stint as a volunteer in the artillery unit under Franco during the Spanish Civil War, Manrique spent two years at the University of La Laguna, studying architecture. In 1945, he decided to move to Madrid, Spain’s capital, and was awarded a scholarship by the San Fernando Art School. He eventually graduated from the school with a degree in teaching art and painting.
From 1964 to 1966, Manrique spent some time in New York City where Nelson Rockefeller awarded him a grant, which allowed him to rent and spend time in his own studio in the city. Here he painted many artistic works, which were exhibited in the well-known Catherine Viviano gallery. He then returned to Lanzarote and eventually designed and built his spectacular home.
It was on September 25, 1992 that Manrique passed away after being involved in a car accident, close to his home in Taro de Tahiche. That same year, César Manrique Foundation was formed.
The non-profit foundation focuses on the arts and the natural environment in combination and the museum and gallery receives around 300,000 visitors each year. Funds from entrance fees are being used by the foundation to raise awareness to the art of Lanzarote and to fund the island’s cultural, artistic and environmental activities.
The environment was important to Manrique and the artist was among the first to recognize tourist potential in the island, however all the while lobbying the island’s authorities to encourage the “sympathetic development of tourism.” Back in those days, this meant preventing high-rise hotels being built on the island and ensuring that the hotels that were built were in keeping with traditional Lanzarote architecture and the colors of the island itself.
Since those days, the foundation has continued to oppose the ongoing proliferation of high-rise concrete apartment blocks and hotels along the coastline of the island of Lanzarote, as well as that of mainland Spain. In fact, recently they brought awareness to 24 hotels, illegally erected on Lanzarote.
For anyone interested in viewing art in and among nature itself, a visit to the César Manrique Foundation and the artist’s lovely home on Lanzarote Island is a must. The video below gives more views of the various rooms and art on display in this wonderful home.
By Anne Sewell
Fundación César Manrique (Spanish language)
Living area with red cushions CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Katchooo
Lava flow through open window CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Dave Walker
Living area with red statue CC BY-SA 2.0 dr_zoidberg
View across lava flow and Art Gallery CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Ian Lloyd
Garden with wall mural CC BY-NC 2.0 dcabrerizo
Top level and exterior of house CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Kevin McGarry
Swimming pool CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Mark Stevens
Living area with white cushions CC BY 2.0 Jon Tribak
Dining area CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Ronan Cantwell