One of the Canary Islands of Spain, Lanzarote, is a place of stark volcanic scenes, incredible beauty and the home of the late Spanish artist, César Manrique.
While Manrique himself died in a car accident back in September 1992, his unusual and fascinating home has been made into a museum for everyone to see and visit.
[Image via Flickr by dr_zoidberg/CC BY-SA 2.0]César Manrique was born in Arrecife on Lanzarote on April 24, 1919 and went on to study architecture at the University of La Laguna. In 1945, he moved to Madrid and was awarded a scholarship by the San Fernando Art School, from where he eventually graduated with a degree of teaching art and painting.
Manrique moved to New York City in 1964 and spent a couple of years in the city after Nelson Rockefeller awarded him a grant. He painted many of his artistic works while in the city before heading back to Lanzarote and home.
It was at that time Manrique designed and built his truly spectacular home before passing away in 1992. That same year, the César Manrique Foundation was formed to preserve his legacy.
[Image via Flickr by Ronan/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]César Manrique’s vision of his perfect home was embedded quite literally in nature and is located on the volcanic rocks in Taro de Tahiche. In some rooms, the lava appears to flow directly into the home (as pictured above). The volcanic lava flow reportedly dates back to an eruption in or around the year 1730.
While on the top level, the house looks perfectly normal (pictured top) and offers the typical Lanzarote architecture, the lower levels are what make the home unique. It is here that Manrique used five lava bubbles to create fascinating living spaces including a spacious entertainment and living area, all open to the sky and temperate climate of Lanzarote and lit with natural light from above.
An outside area with bar, barbecue and swimming pool along with a dance floor were put in place for the many parties hosted by the artist.
[Image living area via Flickr by dr_zoidberg/CC BY-SA 2.0]As can be seen in the video included at the end of the article, the various rooms in the house are joined by curved, well lit tunnels, running from one lava bubble to the next and the two levels are reached via curving stairways, making for a fascinating transition.
[Image via Flickr by Enrique Domingo/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]Another of the lava bubbles contains the artist’s original studio, just as it was on the day he died. Throughout the home, Manrique’s art and architectural genius is clear to see.
[Image via Flickr by Ronan/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]The house also contains a gallery displaying some of the original sketches by popular and famous Spanish artists Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso.
Above ground, the garden is beautifully kept with local, natural flora and a wall has been decorated by the artist with a colorful mural.
[Image via Flickr by Ben Salter/CC BY 2.0]According to a travel blog by Doris and Dicky, the Manrique house is not his only artistic contribution to the island as there are several iconic and eclectic sculptures dotted around the island, most related to nature and some of which turn in the wind.
The natural environment of Lanzarote was important to Manrique, who was one of the first to recognize the tourist potential of the island. However, he wanted to avoid the high-rise hotels and concrete apartment blocks so prevalent on the Spanish mainland and lobbied to keep the architecture on the island as traditional in style as possible.
[Image sculpture in Los Aljibes via Flickr by Rich Jacques/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]According to their Spanish language website, these days the César Manrique Foundation is a non-profit organization, focusing on both the arts and the natural environment in Lanzarote. Funds received in entrance fees to Manrique’s house are used to raise awareness to both the art of the island and to aid in the cultural, artistic and environmental activities on Lanzarote.
The video below takes viewers on a tour of the various rooms and the fascinating art on display in César Manrique’s home in Lanzarote, Spain.