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 Gardell 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 and, during the last decade, Dino Saluzzi. This Argentine bandoneon master has recorded 10 albums, and each one tells it's own
endlessly inventive musical story. The spirit of Dino Saluzzi's work is derived from the oral tradition of
Argentina's music and its value on melody and simplicity.
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.
Jorge Luis Borges
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.