From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Canon: Luis Buñuel - Leonora Carrington- Alfonso Cuarón - Juan García Esquivel - Alejandro González Iñárritu- Alejandro Jodorowsky - Frida Kahlo - Enrique Metinides - José Guadalupe Posada - Pérez Prado - Guillermo del Toro
Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country's history through the blending of pre-Hispanic civilizations and the culture of Spain, imparted during Spain's 300-year colonization of Mexico. Exogenous cultural elements mainly from the United States have been incorporated into Mexican culture. As was the case in most Latin American countries, when Mexico became an independent nation, it had to slowly create a national identity, being an ethnically diverse country in which, for the most part, the only connecting element amongst the newly independent inhabitants was Catholicism.
The Porfirian era (el Porfiriato), in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century, was marked by economic progress and peace. After four decades of civil unrest and war, Mexico saw the development of philosophy and the arts, promoted by President Díaz himself. Since that time, though accentuated during the Mexican Revolution, cultural identity had its foundation in the mestizaje, of which the indigenous (i.e. Amerindian) element was the core. In light of the various ethnicities that formed the Mexican people, José Vasconcelos in his publication La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race) (1925) defined Mexico to be the melting pot of all races (thus extending the definition of the mestizo) not only biologically but culturally as well. This exalting of mestizaje was a revolutionary idea that sharply contrasted with the idea of a superior pure race prevalent in Europe at the time.
Mexican films from the Golden Age in the 1940s and 1950s are the greatest examples of Latin American cinema, with a huge industry comparable to the Hollywood of those years. Mexican films were exported and exhibited in all of Latin America and Europe. Maria Candelaria (1944) by Emilio Fernández, was one of the first films awarded a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946, the first time the event was held after World War II. Famous actors and actresses from this period include María Félix, Pedro Infante, Dolores del Río, Jorge Negrete and the comedian Cantinflas.
More recently, films such as Como agua para chocolate (1992), Cronos (1993), Amores perros (2000), Y tu mamá también (2001), El Crimen del Padre Amaro (2002), Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and Babel (2006) have been successful in creating universal stories about contemporary subjects, and were internationally recognised, as in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Mexican directors Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores perros, Babel), Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Guillermo del Toro, Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro), and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are some of the most known present-day film makers.
- Mario Moreno "Cantinflas"
- Lupe Vélez
- Salma Hayek
- Anthony Quinn
- Claudio Brook
- Pedro Armendáriz
- Silvia Pinal
- Sara García
- Miroslava Stern
- Joaquin Cordero
- Luis Buñuel
- Eduardo Barraza
- Salvador Carrasco
- Carlos Carrera
- Alfonso Cuarón
- Guillermo del Toro
- Fernando Eimbcke
- Emilio ("El Indio") Fernández
- Alejandro González Iñárritu
- Alejandro Jodorowsky
- Gabriel Retes
- Carlos Reygadas
- Arturo Ripstein
- Ismael Rodriguez
- Lenny Nunez
- Carlos Salces
- Antonio Serrano
- Alejandro Springall
Mexican society enjoys a vast array of music genres, showing the diversity of Mexican culture. Traditional music includes Mariachi, Banda, Norteño, Ranchera and Corridos; on an every-day basis most Mexicans listen to contemporary music such as pop, rock, etc. in both English and Spanish. Mexico has the largest media industry in Latin America, producing Mexican artists who are famous in Central and South America and parts of Europe, especially Spain. Some well-known Mexican singers are Thalia, Luis Miguel and Paulina Rubio. Popular groups are Café Tacuba, Molotov, RBD and Maná, among others.
Most states, through their Ministry of Culture or of Education, sponsor an Orquesta Sinfónica or Orquesta Filarmónica (Symphony Orchestra or Philharmonica Orchestra) so people can enjoy classical music.
The music of Mexico is diverse and features a wide range of different musical styles influenced mainly by Indigenous music . Many traditional Mexican songs are well-known worldwide, although most of the time their origin in Mexico is not so clear to the non-Mexican listener. "Bésame Mucho", "Cielito Lindo", "El Rey", La Bamba, "Maria Bonita" and many more are part of the Mexican culture and famous all over the world.
Music on the East Coast of Mexico was very influenced by Cuban music in the 20th century. The Son Jarocho and Son Huasteco where influenced by the Son Cubano. Cha cha cha, Danzon, Mambo and Bolero grew importantly in Mexico, specially in Veracruz and Mexico City. Important song writers that influenced this were Perez Prado, Benny More and Agustin Lara.
Nowadays the most popular Mexican genre is ranchera, interpreted by a band of mariachis. Examples include the work of Cuco Sanchez, Chavela Vargas and Vicente Fernández. Mariachi music remains Mexico's national song.
Another important music style is the traditional "norteño," or Northern tunes, which has been the basis for such variations as banda music. These styles are popular in many regions of Mexico. Norteño, similar to Tejano music, arose in the 1830s and 40s in the Rio Grande region, south of Texas. Influenced by Bohemian immigrant miners, its rhythm was derived from the European polka dance popular during the 1800s. Banda, similar to norteño in musical form, originated from the Mexico state of Sinaloa during the 1960s.
In the late 60's, the Mexican rock movement began, rapidly becoming popular, and peaking in the 80's and 90's with authentic sounds and styles, often blending traditional instruments and stories in the lyrics. Mexican and Latin Rock remain very popular in Mexico, even more than rock in other languages. Other Mexican variations in music from other regions include Cumbia, pop, hip-hop, and rock, which are heavily influenced by music from Latin America and Europe, and are increasingly becoming popular among Mexican youths.
Mexico's stronghold on the music market in Latin America is long established. The Mexican music market catapults small artists to the United States Spanish and non-Spanish speaking public. Such was the case with Julio Iglesias, Paulina Rubio, Ricky Martin and Shakira, the last of whom arrived in Mexico on 1994, released a second album there and started a successful career in the United States after that. According to the America Top 100, Mexico had over 90 hits in Latin America during 2006, almost a third more than its closest competitor, the United States.
Today, there are many popular modern Mexican musical genres. Widely popular country music includes norteño, banda, and duranguense bands, which play rancheras, corridos, as well as cumbia. Rock en Español, hip-hop, and electronic music are other modern genres popular among Mexicans with a wide variety of Mexican artists.
Post-revolutionary art in Mexico had its expression in the works of renowned artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Juan O'Gorman. Diego Rivera, the most well-known figure of Mexican muralism, painted the Man at the Crossroads at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, a huge mural that was destroyed the next year due to the inclusion of a portrait of Russian communist leader Lenin.Some of Rivera's murals are displayed at the Mexican National Palace and the Palace of Fine Arts.
Academic music composers of Mexico include Manuel María Ponce, José Pablo Moncayo, Julián Carrillo, Mario Lavista, Carlos Chávez, Silvestre Revueltas, Arturo Márquez, and Juventino Rosas, many of whom incorporated traditional elements into their music. Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Rulfo, Elena Poniatowska, and José Emilio Pacheco, are some of the most recognized authors of Mexican literature.
Mexico is known worldwide for its folk art traditions, mostly derived from a combination of the indigenous and Spanish crafts. Particularly notable among handicrafts are the clay pottery made in the valley of Oaxaca and the bird and animal figures made in the village of Tonalá. Colorfully embroidered cotton garments, cotton or wool shawls and outer garments, and colorful baskets and rugs are seen everywhere. Between the Spanish conquest and the early Twentieth Century, Mexican fine arts were largely in imitation of European traditions. After the Mexican Revolution, a new generation of Mexican artists led a vibrant national movement that incorporated political, historic, and folk themes in their work. The painters Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros became world famous for their grand scale murals, often displaying clear social messages. Rufino Tamayo and Frida Kahlo produced more personal works with abstract elements. Mexican art photography was largely fostered by the work of Manuel Álvarez Bravo.
Two of the major television networks based in Mexico are Televisa and TV Azteca. Televisa is also the largest producer of Spanish-language content in the world and also the world's largest Spanish-language media network. Grupo Multimedios is another media conglomerate with Spanish-language broadcasting in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. Soap operas (telenovelas) are translated to many languages and seen all over the world with renowned names like Verónica Castro, Lucía Méndez, Lucero, and Thalía. Even Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna from Y tu mamá también and current Zegna model have appeared in some of them. Some of their TV shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like Family Feud (100 Mexicanos Dijeron or "A hundred Mexicans said" in Spanish) and ¿Qué dice la gente?, Big Brother, American Idol, Saturday Night Live and others. Nationwide news shows like Las Noticias por Adela on Televisa resemble a hybrid between Donahue and Nightline. Local news shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like the Eyewitness News and Action News formats. Border cities receive television and radio stations from the U.S., while satellite and cable subscription is common for the middle-classes in major cities, and they often watch movies and TV shows from the U.S.
Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices. Most of today's Mexican food is based on pre-hispanic traditions, including the Aztecs and Maya, combined with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists. The conquistadores eventually combined their imported diet of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic and onions with the native pre-Columbian food, including maize, tomato, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, chili pepper, beans, squash, limes (limón in Mexican Spanish), sweet potato, peanut and turkey.
The most internationally recognized dishes include chocolate, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, tamales and mole among others. Regional dishes include mole poblano, chiles en nogada and chalupas from Puebla; cabrito and machaca from Monterrey, cochinita pibil from Yucatán, Tlayudas from Oaxaca, as well as barbacoa, chilaquiles, milanesas, and many others.
Things called Mexican