Cesar Manrique was born in Arrecife, Lanzarote in 1919 and his legacy is there to see for every visitor to the island. Most of the tourist attractions on the island have his art at their base,in fact you could say that Lanzarote is synonymous with Manrique and vice versa. Not only is his art visible but his influence on the natural landscape that is Lanzarote cannot be underestimated. Manrique was influential in the establishment of the National Park at Timanfaya named after one of the villages that was destroyed in the 18th century volcanic eruptions. His influence in restricting the height and colour schemes associated with the new developments on the island ensured that Lanzarote would not go the way of its neighbours, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
Manriques parents had moved to Lanzarote from Fuerteventura. They were a middle class family of good stock. Manriques father bought a plot at Famara and built a house right on the ocean. The young Cesar spent the long summers of his childhood here with the sweeping beach flanked by the 400 metre Los Riscos in the background.
They made a lasting impression on the budding artist so much so that inevitably he returned to his native land after pursuing his art in New York, Madrid and other places. He studied Technical Architecture as a twenty year old after the Spanish Civil War. He gave up this course after two years and then pursued a scholarship at an Art institution in Madrid.. Manrique was inevitably influenced by Spanish artists. Picasso was one of his heroes although so was Matisse. He spent time in New York where he mixed with other artists and bohemian types. He could not settle to New York life and described it as humans living like rats.
Manrique was a sculptor, an architect , a planner , a gardener and an ecologist but he described himself as simply ` a painter.` He returned to his homeland and set up a studio which is today the Manrique foundation. His art is synonymous with Lanzarote and can be seen all over the island especially his wind chimes sculptures based on the old mills of the islands history. His most famous sculpture on the island is probably El Campesino his tribute in iron to the peasants who used the gifts of nature to cultivate the harsh volcanic landscape of Lanzarote.
Manrique died in 1992 at the age of 73. He was ironically killed in a motor accident in Arrecife. Manrique had always opposed the encroachment of the motor vehicle on the island. (More about Manrique)