The tango, an intricate dance performed to
a rhythmic, emotional song, was born in Buenos Aires. Although it is now
considered a sophisticated, elegant dance, it originated in the slums in
the 1880s as a way for poor people to act out the conflicts in their lives.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the singer Carlos Gardel made the tango famous
around the world. The instruments used to play tango music are the bandoneón
(similar to an accordion), the violin and the guitar. Traditional tango
music has been combined with modern jazz to create the "new tango" made
popular by musicians such as Astor Piazzolla.
Outside Buenos Aires, other dances are popular, such as
the stately zamba and the lively escondido, the dance of the gauchos, performed
to music that sounds like galloping horses. Argentina's musical heritage
is kept alive in folk clubs by musicians such as Atahualpa Yupanqui, Mercedes
Sosa and Ramona Galarza. Opera is also popular, and Buenos Aires has a
beautiful opera house, the Teatro Colón. The operas of Argentinian
composer Alberto Ginastera, Bomarza and Don Rodrigo, have been performed
around the world.
Argentinian sculpture and painting was influenced by
European styles in the 19th century, but distinctive Argentinian artistic
styles emerged in the 20th century. One popular group of young Argentinians
to come out of the 1970s was the "New Image Painters." Their paintings
display familiar objects from daily life in unusual contexts. The viewer
must make up a story to account for the picture.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) wrote short stories that
blend fantasy, myths and symbols. His books include Ficciones (Fictions)
andOtras inquisiciones (Other Inquisitions). Julio Cortázar (1914-84)
was a novelist and short story writer. The British movie Blow Up was based
on one of his short stories, Las babas del diablo (The Devil's Drool).
Ernesto Sábato (1911- ) is a novelist and essayist whose most famous
novel is Sobre heroes y tumbas (On Heroes and Tombs). Manuel Puig (1932-90)
wrote El beso de la Mujer Araña (Kiss of the Spider Woman), which
became famous as a play and as a film.