Learning from History: César Manrique’s Artistic Ventures

When looking at César Manrique’s life, it clear to see his love of art in more than one form. César Manrique (April 1919 – September 1992) lived a full life, attempting and succeeding at many large projects that still affect people today. As artists we are inspired not only by other artists, but also by daily events or small details. Also, as individuals we take different type of inspiration from different situation. But what is it that you can take away from César Manrique?



A Little Background on César Manrique


Cesar ManriqueBorn in Arrecife, Lanzarote (one of the Canary Islands)  César Manrique was among the privileged. However, his life was affected by other events rather than through financial struggles. He volunteered in the Spanish Civil War, but returned without uttering a word of his experience. His actions were more than enough, as he burnt his army clothes the moment he greeted his family.

After the war, César entered into his studies. He graduated from Madrid’s Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando as a painter and Art Professor. His path took him to New York where he lived with other creatives. However, after receiving a grant, he was able to acquire his very own studio, which in turn led to his successful exhibition in the Catherine Viviano gallery.

Yet, even with his success, César found himself missing his true home, Lanzarote. In one of his letters to a friend, he wrote:

“(…) more than ever I feel true nostalgia for the real meaning of things. For the pureness of the people. For the bareness of my landscape, and for my friends (…) My last conclusion is that MAN in N.Y. is like a rat. Man was not created for this artificiality. There is an imperative need to go back to the soil. Feel it, smell it. That’s what I feel.

Indeed, César returned home with one intention. He wanted to bring out the true beauty in the island. For César could see the potential the island held, if only someone would work with it.


Turning a Desolate, Volcano Island into More


Interior garden and mural cesar manrique museum foundation


We often doubt ourselves and our own capabilities. An artist I know well was once told to find her specific style and to stick with it. This “advice” could have been the worst advice she ever got, had she listened to it. Today, her artwork is blooming in it’s variety. The freedom she allowed herself gave her confidence and allowed her to grow her abilities in multiple artistic ventures.

The same principle goes for César, who managed to turn the desolate Lanzarote into a thriving tourist destination today. This feat was only possible because he delved into different artistic genres, from sculpting to landscaping. He was considered a master of many different things, not limited to, environmentalist, painter, sculptor and architect.


Cofounder and Pioneer



César Manrique’s activities don’t stop at bringing more beauty to an already beautiful landscape. Not only was he a pioneer of abstract art in Spain in 1953, but he was also one of the cofounders of his very own gallery, Fernando Fé Gallery, Madrid. This gallery wasn’t a normal gallery either, as it furthered their cause. It happened to be the first non figurative gallery within Spain. Further, César held exhibitions in other countries, such as Finland, Japan and Germany.

Known to some as a frugal man, César lived a peaceful, yet hardworking life. He didn’t smoke or drink. He went bed early and got up early to start his work. Most of all, even when he managed to reach much in his life, he only saw himself as a painter. What can you learn from him? Comment below!

César Manrique did plenty more. If you would like to read and see more, visit his website.