Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just The Way It Changes, Like The Shoreline And The Sea


Whilst on Lanzarote last week we spent a fascinating day visiting the house of the painter, sculptor, and environmentalist, César Manrique.  César Manrique (1919-1992) was a native of Lanzarote but his paintings and sculptures have been exhibited throughout the world and for a period in the 1960s he lived in America. He was friends with, and influenced by, such people as Picasso and Andy Warhol, but perhaps his greatest legacy is to be found on his native island. There he was able to influence the government to restrict the spread of high-rise hotels and sky-scrapers, and there he built a magnificent home which is now a museum, gallery and the headquarters of the Fundación César Manrique. 



The house is built within one of the gigantic lava flows that so characterise the island and takes advantage of five huge volcanic lava bubbles which have been incorporated into the very design of the house. You can thus descend into the lava field itself and explore the various rooms, pools and gardens that have been sculpted directly into the rock. It is difficult to describe properly, but unforgettable to visit, so if ever you go to Lanzarote you must visit it.

The most striking feature was the way the surrounding environment of lava flows and magma bubbles seem to flow into the house and into the galleries, so that the line between art and nature is not simply blurred, but almost purposely distorted. As we walked around and viewed not just Manrique's own work but the work of many other modern artists, I found myself thinking of that memorable line from the Sainted Leonard's "That's No Way To Say Goodbye" :
"you know my love goes with you as your love stays with me, 
it's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea"
It is a magical place, somewhere where the gallery itself is perhaps the most important exhibit.

And as you walk around the building, you also find yourself merging into both the environment and the artwork. So I had therefore better point out, that this is no modernist sculpture, but your very own News From Nowhere reporter seen against one of the magnificent mosaic panels in the grounds of the house.

You can discover more about the life and work of César Manrique by visiting the website of the Fundación César Manrique.

16 comments:

  1. Don't know what happened to my last comment, Alan! I just wanted to say what an interesting description of this place. I specially like the idea of the outside world impinging upon the inside one

    Of course you would make a very nice addition to the artwork yourself :)

    I specially love the look of the pool. Imagining it on a hot day....

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    1. Your last comment no doubt vanished into a magma bubble. Thanks for the kind words and, you are right, the pool was very inviting indeed.

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  2. Alan, you look and, more importantly, sound very much at home in an artistic setting. César Manrique is a new name to me, and I shall be following the link to learn more.

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  3. Very interesting and fun post. The home, the modern art, nature and the blurring of the lines, St. Leonard and his lyrics, along with a "sculpture" of a perfectly modern man. What a cool adventure.

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  4. Wow, fascinating photos and accompanying text, once again! And that final shot of my separated-at-birth twin was a nice surprise, too.

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  5. The reporter looks good in the warm sunshine. It would great to see how the house blended into the environment. Great report Mr. News from Nowhere.

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  6. Hello Alan:
    What an intriguing house. We are fascinated at the way in which it seems to erupt from the rock and Art, house and landscape become as one. Should we ever find ourselves in Lanzarote, then we should most certainly visit this most individual of places.

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  7. Fascinating--thinking of a home built into & incorporating elements of a lava field. Thanks for the photos & the write-up!

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  8. Goodness. I have never heard of Lanzarote or César Manrique and so this is a very interesting enlightening post for me. I'll have to follow your link and learn more. I've always liked the blending of nature and housing that emphasizes our connection to the earth.

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  9. A very interesting house, indeed! It looks like the Canarians are like the Icelanders in finding ways to live comfortably, and creatively, in a hostile environment.

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  10. Sounds like a really cool place to visit. Of course , for anybody who likes art it's a bonus.

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  11. One of my favourite places ever. Thank you Alan, you’re doing wonders for the tourist trade!

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  12. What a wonderful place and post!

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  13. Thanks for the tour..it looks interesting..and I enjoyed your description very much:)

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  14. It sounds fascinating. What an interesting concept to build a house in lava tunnels. I love the outdoors and the idea of the flow between outside and inside, art and reality is very appealing. Also, well done to him for resisting the spread of the high rises :)

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  15. Magical places you find! Amazing!

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