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. 

 Did you know? 
The National Foundation for the Arts has started a campaign to preserve and promote traditional Argentinian arts and crafts such as leather-working, horn-carving, silverwork, ceramics and weaving.


Argentina has a thriving film industry. The Official Story by Luis Puenzo won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1986. 

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 Arańa (Kiss of the Spider Woman), which became famous as a play and as a film.