The César Manrique Foundation, created in 1992, is located in the artist’s studio home and was built in 1968 on top of a volcanic trail. It makes use, in the lower levels, of naturally formed volcanic chambers, and Manrique’s creation is a fantastic blend of manmade features merged with natural characteristics created by the violence of nature.
You are guided to the foundation not only by traditional road signs, but also by some of Manrique’s mobile sculptures, what he called "wind toys." It is claimed that he wanted to replace Lanzarote’s lost heritage, the windmill, with modern references to those halcyon days. He had plans to strategically place them around the island, but died before he could implement his vision. The town council used his sketches to create and erect these heavy metal structures, which seem remarkably graceful as they sensitively respond to the vagaries of the wind. Despite the outrageousness of some of the designs, they blend oh so well with the Lanzarote landscape.
The house is the perfect presentation of the artist’s sentiments, as Manrique’s creation merges with nature’s own contribution. To greet you at the entrance is one of Manrique’s early colourful wind toys, with the volcanic peak in the background, a real contrast to the simple white arched entrance that takes you through to his magical mystery tour.
The garden is yet another of his masterpieces, blending the volcanic landscape with the palm trees, bright flora, and naturally, the Manrique Cacti. Superb views of the mountains and lava flow are framed through large picture windows, seen alongside modern sculptures or fine specimens of cactus. Not forgetting a colourful Picasso-type mural providing the perfect interim background for more cacti and the foreground for the garden extension in the form of Lanzarote’s own landscape.
Below ground level, within the volcanic "bubbles" are created surreal "Daliesque" living spaces, with beautifully handcrafted furniture set in bright white interiors. Sometimes Manrique left the black volcanic rock exposed, emphasising his "at oneness" with nature and to contrast with the highly polished white floors. Vibrant red is used in other living spaces, with white walls and jet-black floors. And then, in a living space, there is a glimpse of the sky, partially hidden by vegetation from the garden. Natural products abound to compliment and contrast with Manrique’s intrusions.
Walking from one room to another, we pass through an elaborate indoor pool exposed to the elements. I know that’s contradictory, but so is Manrique’s creation. This is a tranquil space, with the gentle sound of water from the various fountains and the bright blue sky reflected in the azure waters of the pool.
Keep an eye out for Manrique’s toilet signs and make sure you pay them a visit.
As you enter the house, there is a small art exhibition, but on the lower floor is a collection of Manrique’s own artwork alongside his collection of those by Picasso, Miró, and Klee. You have to spend time pondering these masterpieces.