César Manrique (1919-1992) was born in Arrecife, Lanzarote, and his artistic career has left an indelible imprint on the island.
After completing his studies at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid (where he lived from 1945 to 1964), he went on to have frequent exhibitions of his paintings both nationally and internationally. He participated in the XXVIII and XXX Venice Biennales (1955 and 1960) and in the III Hispano-American Biennale of Havana (1955). In the early fifties he started to experiment with non-figurative art, exploring the qualities of matter until it became the essential protagonist of his artwork. Thus, like other Spanish painters such as Antoni Tàpies, Lucio Muñoz, Manuel Millares, among others, he became associated with the Informalist movement of those years.
He travelled to many parts of the world and in 1964, he moved to New York. There, his direct contact with American Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, new sculpture and kinetic art provided him with a visual culture that would be the foundation for his later artistic career. While in New York he had three solo shows in 1966, 1967 and 1969 in the Catherine Viviano Gallery.
In 1966, he returned to Lanzarote for good. The island was just starting to develop its tourist industry, and he promoted a model of intervention based on the fundamentals of sustainability that sought to safeguard the island’s natural heritage and culture. This model proved to be the determining factor in the declaration of Lanzarote as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993.
In parallel with this commitment to the island, Manrique started to take his creative work in the direction of other art forms. This led him to develop a new aesthetic ideology, which he called art-nature/nature-art, and which he went on to materialise through his spatial interventions, which are unique examples of public art in Spain: Jameos el Agua, his home in Tahíche (today headquarters of the Fundación César Manrique), Mirador del Río, Jardín de Cactus, etc.