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César Manrique :: Wind Toys

Friday May 28, 2010

César Manrique :: Wind Toys

Visitors to Lanzarote marvel at the incredible giant mobiles – or wind toys – that are sited in various spots around the island.

Created by island born artist and architect César Manrique these large scale sculptures - containing interweaving, moving elements – epitomise his core philosophy of fusing art with nature. As whilst all of these pieces make a big impact when stationary, they really come to life with the assistance of the wind.

Very often, for me, painting becomes limited to measures established by restrictive spaces. That is why I transfer the principles of total artistic imagination to monumentality in contact with nature. César Manrique

 Gone With The Wind

Historically, Lanzarote has always had very limited natural energy resources. There are no rivers or streams to power turbines or energy reserves such as coal or wood to draw upon. But, as any regular visitor will know, the island can be very windy.

In decades past, the islanders harnessed this free source of natural energy and used it to power windmills. Which in turn were used to grind grain or gofio and drive water pumps. There are still some windmills dotted around Lanzarote today, many in a state of disrepair, others restored to their former glory, such as the mills at the Jardin de Cactus and the Agricultural Museum in Tiagua.

Magic Roundabouts

These windmills provided Manrique with the initial inspiration for the series of juguettes de viento - or wind toys - that he started to create back in the mid-1970´s and which are now most noticeably sited on rounadabouts at various strategic points around the island. As the mills started to disappear from Lanzarote´s landscape during the 1960´s and 70´s Manrique resolved to replace them with other structures that would harness the power of the trade winds.

The result is a series of four giant sculptural pieces - the biggest standing 13 metres tall - along with a further eight smaller works.

Homage To Pepin Ramirez

Visitors to Lanzarote dont have to wait long before encountering the first fruits of Manrique´s endeavour. As one of the first sights that greets new arrivals as they leave the airport is the giant silver wind toy, created by Manrique as a homage to Pepin Ramirez.

In conjunction with Manrique, Ramirez had an enormous influence on shaping the relatively restrained development of tourism on Lanzarote. He was an old friend of the Manrique family who went on to become the President of the island Council. Giving him a position of power from which he was able to help César realise his vision for controlled - and culturally relevant – development on the island during the tourist boom years of the 1970´s.

So it is most fitting that Ramirez' legacy is honoured in such a high profile position. And the giant silver coloured sculpture, with its interweaving, wind driven parts creates a big impact.


Fobos is the biggest wind toy created by Manrique and arguably his most intricate. Made from galvanised and painted iron this 13 metre tall structure is sited on the roundabout next to the Cesar Manrique Foundation in Tahiche.

With the assistance of the wind the sculptures interweaving, counter rotating parts really come alive - creating a high impact spectacle.

Fobos was first created back in 1994 and stood undisturbed on its plinth until - somewhat ironically – strong winds got the better of the structure during Tropical Storm Delta back in November 2005.

The storm damaged the central axis of the wind toy and blew it to the ground. But happily after an absence of nearly a year Fobos was finally restored to its rightful spot in November 2006.

Manrique also created a replica of Fobos which is sited in Arucas in Gran Canaria - again in the middle of a traffic roundabout.

Other Wind Toys

The remaining juguettes de viento in this series of sculptures are all untitled works, with the exception of the 3.25 metre tall Energy Of The Pyramid. A painted steel mobile, created in 1990, that is located in the grounds of the Cesar Manrique Foundation along with two other works.

The two other giant wind toys are both located on roundabouts. One at Arrieta and the other close to the village of Montana Blanca. Smaller wind toys can also be spotted in a number of locations around the resort of Costa Teguise Such as by the golf course and at the main beach of Playa Cucharas.


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