Argentina is a multicultural country with significant European influences. Modern Argentine culture has been largely influenced by Italian, Spanish and other European immigration from France, United Kingdom, and Germany among others. Its cities are largely characterized by both the prevalence of people of European descent, and of conscious imitation of American and European styles in fashion, architecture and design. Museums, cinemas, and galleries are abundant in all the large urban centers, as well as traditional establishments such as literary bars, or bars offering live music of a variety of genres although there are lesser elements of Amerindian and African influences, particularly in the fields of music and art. The other big influence is the gauchos and their traditional country lifestyle of self-reliance. Finally, indigenous American traditions have been absorbed into the general cultural milieu. Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato has reflected on the nature of the culture of Argentina as follows:
With the primitive Hispanic American reality fractured in La Plata Basin due to immigration, its inhabitants have come to be somewhat dual with all the dangers but also with all the advantages of that condition: because of our European roots, we deeply link the nation with the enduring values of the Old World; because of our condition of Americans we link ourselves to the rest of the continent, through the folklore of the interior and the old Castilian that unifies us, feeling somehow the vocation of the Patria Grande San Martín and Bolívar once imagined.
Although Argentina's rich literary history began around 1550, it reached full independence with Esteban Echeverría's El Matadero, a romantic landmark that played a significant role in the development of 19th century's Argentine narrative, split by the ideological divide between the popular, federalist epic of José Hernández' Martín Fierro and the elitist and cultured discourse of Sarmiento's masterpiece, Facundo.
The Modernist movement advanced into the 20th century including exponents such as Leopoldo Lugones and poet Alfonsina Storni; it was followed by Vanguardism, with Ricardo Güiraldes's Don Segundo Sombra as an important reference.
Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina's most acclaimed writer and one of the foremost figures in the history of literature, found new ways of looking at the modern world in metaphor and philosophical debate and his influence has extended to authors all over the globe. Short stories such as Ficciones and The Aleph are among his most famous works. He was a friend and collaborator of Adolfo Bioy Casares, who wrote one of the most praised science fiction novels, The Invention of Morel. Julio Cortázar, one of the leading members of the Latin American Boom and a major name in 20th century literature, influenced an entire generation of writers in the Americas and Europe.
Other highly regarded Argentine writers, poets and essayists include Estanislao del Campo, Eugenio Cambaceres, Pedro Bonifacio Palacios, Hugo Wast, Benito Lynch, Enrique Banchs, Oliverio Girondo, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, Victoria Ocampo, Leopoldo Marechal, Silvina Ocampo, Roberto Arlt, Eduardo Mallea, Manuel Mujica Láinez, Ernesto Sábato, Silvina Bullrich, Rodolfo Walsh, María Elena Walsh, Tomás Eloy Martínez, Manuel Puig, Alejandra Pizarnik, and Osvaldo Soriano.
Tango, a Rioplatense musical genre with European and African influences, is one of Argentina's international cultural symbols. The golden age of tango (1930 to mid-1950s) mirrored that of jazz and swing in the United States, featuring large orchestras like those of Osvaldo Pugliese, Aníbal Troilo, Francisco Canaro, Julio de Caro and Juan d'Arienzo. After 1955, virtuoso Astor Piazzolla popularized Nuevo tango, a subtler and more intellectual trend for the genre. Tango enjoys worldwide popularity nowadays with groups like Gotan Project, Bajofondo and Tanghetto.
Argentina developed strong classical music and dance scenes that gave rise to renowned artists such as Alberto Ginastera, composer; Alberto Lysy, violinist; Martha Argerich and Eduardo Delgado, pianists; Daniel Barenboim, pianist and symphonic orchestra director; José Cura and Marcelo Álvarez, tenors; and to ballet dancers Jorge Donn, José Neglia, Norma Fontenla, Maximiliano Guerra, Paloma Herrera, Marianela Núñez, Iñaki Urlezaga and Julio Bocca.
A national Argentine folk style emerged in the 1930s from dozens of regional musical genres and went to influence the entirety of Latin American music. Some of its interpreters, like Atahualpa Yupanqui and Mercedes Sosa, achieved worldwide acclaim.
The romantic ballad genre included singers of international fame such as Sandro de América.
Argentine rock developed as a distinct musical style in the mid-1960s, when Buenos Aires and Rosario became cradles of aspiring musicians. Founding bands like Los Gatos, Sui Generis, Almendra and Manal were followed by Seru Giran, Los Abuelos de la Nada, Soda Stereo and Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota, with prominent artists including Gustavo Cerati, Litto Nebbia, Andrés Calamaro, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Charly García, Fito Páez and León Gieco.
Tenor saxophonist Leandro "Gato" Barbieri and composer and big band conductor Lalo Schifrin are among the most internationally successful Argentine jazz musicians.
Buenos Aires is one of the great theatre capitals of the world, with a scene of international caliber centered on Corrientes Avenue, "the street that never sleeps", sometimes referred to as an intellectual Broadway in Buenos Aires. Teatro Colón is a global landmark for opera and classical performances; its acoustics are considered among the world's top five. Other important theatrical venues include Teatro General San Martín, Cervantes, both in Buenos Aires City; Argentino in La Plata, El Círculo in Rosario, Independencia in Mendoza, and Libertador in Córdoba. Griselda Gambaro, Copi, Roberto Cossa, Marco Denevi, Carlos Gorostiza, and Alberto Vaccarezza are a few of the most prominent Argentine playwrights.
Argentine theatre traces its origins to Viceroy Juan José de Vértiz y Salcedo's creation of the colony's first theatre, La Ranchería, in 1783. In this stage, in 1786, a tragedy entitled Siripo had its premiere. Siripo is now a lost work (only the second act is conserved), and can be considered the first Argentine stage play, because it was written by Buenos Aires poet Manuel José de Lavardén, it was premiered in Buenos Aires, and its plot was inspired by an historical episode of the early colonization of the Río de la Plata Basin: the destruction of Sancti Spiritu colony by aboriginals in 1529. La Ranchería theatre operated until its destruction in a fire in 1792. The second theatre stage in Buenos Aires was Teatro Coliseo, opened in 1804 during the term of Viceroy Rafael de Sobremonte. It was the nation's longest-continuously operating stage. The musical creator of the Argentine National Anthem, Blas Parera, earned fame as a theatre score writer during the early 19th century. The genre suffered during the regime of Juan Manuel de Rosas, though it flourished alongside the economy later in the century. The national government gave Argentine theatre its initial impulse with the establishment of the Colón Theatre, in 1857, which hosted classical and operatic, as well as stage performances. Antonio Petalardo's successful 1871 gambit on the opening of the Teatro Opera, inspired others to fund the growing art in Argentina.
The Argentine film industry has historically been one of the three most developed in Latin American cinema, along with those produced in Mexico and Brazil. Started in 1896; by the early 1930s it had already become Latin America's leading film producer, a place it kept until the early 1950s. The world's first animated feature films were made and released in Argentina, by cartoonist Quirino Cristiani, in 1917 and 1918.
Argentine films have achieved worldwide recognition: the country has won two Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, with The Official Story (1985) and The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) with seven nominations:
- The Truce (La tregua) in 1974
- Camila (Camila) in 1984
- The Official Story (La historia oficial) in 1985
- Tango (Tango) in 1998
- Son of the Bride (El hijo de la novia) in 2001
- The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos) in 2009
- Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) in 2015
In addition, Argentine composers Luis Enrique Bacalov and Gustavo Santaolalla have been honored with Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2006 and 2007 nods and Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone have been honored with Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2015. Also, the Argentine French actress Bérénice Bejo received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2011 and won the César Award for Best Actress and won the Best Actress award in the Cannes Film Festival for her role in the film The Past.
Argentina also has won seventeen Goya Awards for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film with A King and His Movie (1986), A Place in the World (1992), Gatica, el mono (1993), Autumn Sun (1996), Ashes of Paradise (1997), The Lighthouse (1998), Burnt Money (2000), The Escape (2001), Intimate Stories (2003), Blessed by Fire (2005), The Hands (2006), XXY (2007), The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), Chinese Take-Away (2011), Wild Tales (2014), The Clan (2015) and The Distinguished Citizen (2016) being by far the most awarded in Latin America with twenty four nominations.
Many other Argentine films have been acclaimed by the international critique: Camila (1984), Man Facing Southeast (1986), A Place in the World (1992), Pizza, Beer, and Cigarettes (1997), Nine Queens (2000), A Red Bear (2002), The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), The Aura (2005), Chinese Take-Away (2011) and Wild Tales (2014) being some of them.
In 2013 about 100 full-length motion pictures were being created annually.
Some of the best-known Argentine painters are Cándido López and Florencio Molina Campos (Naïve style); Ernesto de la Cárcova and Eduardo Sívori (Realism); Fernando Fader (Impressionism); Pío Collivadino, Atilio Malinverno and Cesáreo Bernaldo de Quirós (Postimpressionism); Emilio Pettoruti (Cubism); Julio Barragán (Concretism and Cubism) Antonio Berni (Neofigurativism); Roberto Aizenberg and Xul Solar (Surrealism); Gyula Košice (Constructivism); Eduardo Mac Entyre (Generative art); Luis Seoane, Carlos Torrallardona, Luis Aquino, and Alfredo Gramajo Gutiérrez (Modernism); Lucio Fontana (Spatialism); Tomás Maldonado and Guillermo Kuitca (Abstract art); León Ferrari and Marta Minujín (Conceptual art); and Gustavo Cabral (Fantasy art).
In 1946 Gyula Košice and others created The Madí Movement in Argentina, which then spread to Europe and United States, where it had a significant impact. Tomás Maldonado was one of the main theorists of the Ulm Model of design education, still highly influential globally.
Other Argentine artists of worldwide fame include Adolfo Bellocq, whose lithographs have been influential since the 1920s, and Benito Quinquela Martín, the quintessential port painter, inspired by the immigrant-bound La Boca neighborhood.
Internationally laureate sculptors Erminio Blotta, Lola Mora and Rogelio Yrurtia authored many of the classical evocative monuments of the Argentine cityscape.
The colonization brought the Spanish Baroque architecture, which can still be appreciated in its simpler Rioplatense style in the reduction of San Ignacio Miní, the Cathedral of Córdoba, and the Cabildo of Luján. Italian and French influences increased at the beginning of the 19th century with strong eclectic overtones that gave the local architecture a unique feeling.
Numerous Argentine architects have enriched their own country's cityscape and those around the world: Juan Antonio Buschiazzo helped popularize Beaux-Arts architecture and Francisco Gianotti combined Art Nouveau with Italianate styles, each adding flair to Argentine cities during the early 20th century. Francisco Salamone and Viktor Sulčič left an Art Deco legacy, and Alejandro Bustillo created a prolific body of Neoclassical and Rationalist architecture. Alberto Prebisch and Amancio Williams were highly influenced by Le Corbusier, while Clorindo Testa introduced Brutalist architecture locally. César Pelli's and Patricio Pouchulu's Futurist creations have graced cities worldwide: Pelli's 1980s throwbacks to the Art Deco glory of the 1920s made him one of the world's most prestigious architects, with the Norwest Center and the Petronas Towers among his most celebrated creations.
Pato is the national sport, an ancient horseback game locally originated in the early 1600s and predecessor of horseball. The most popular sport is Football. Along with Brazil and France, the men's national team is the only one to have won the most important international triplet: World Cup, Confederations Cup, and Olympic Gold Medal. It has also won 14 Copas América, 6 Pan American Gold Medals, and many other trophies. Alfredo Di Stéfano, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi are among the best players in the game's history.
The country's women's field hockey team Las Leonas is one of the world's most successful, with four Olympic medals, two World Cups, a World League and seven Champions Trophy. Luciana Aymar is recognized as the best female player in the history of the sport, being the only player to have received the FIH Player of the Year Award eight times.
Basketball is a very popular sport. The men's national team is the only one in the FIBA Americas zone that has won the quintuplet crown: World Championship, Olympic Gold Medal, Diamond Ball, Americas Championship, and Pan American Gold Medal. It has also conquered 13 South American Championships, and many other tournaments. Emanuel Ginóbili, Luis Scola, Andrés Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Pablo Prigioni, Carlos Delfino and Juan Ignacio Sánchez are a few of the country's most acclaimed players, all of them part of the NBA. Argentina hosted the Basketball World Cup in 1950 and 1990.
Rugby is another popular sport in Argentina. As of 2017 the men's national team, known as 'Los Pumas' has competed at the Rugby World Cup each time it has been held, achieving their highest ever result in 2007 when they came third. Since 2012 the Los Pumas have competed against Australia, New Zealand & South Africa in The Rugby Championship, the premier international Rugby competition in the Southern Hemisphere. Since 2009 the secondary men's national team known as the 'Jaguares' has competed against the USA, Canada, and Uruguay first teams in the Americas Rugby Championship, which Los Jaguares have won six out of eight times it has taken place.
Argentina has produced some of the most formidable champions for Boxing, including Carlos Monzón, the best middleweight in history; Pascual Pérez, one of the most decorated flyweight boxers of all times; Víctor Galíndez, as of 2009 record holder for consecutive world light heavyweight title defenses; and Nicolino Locche, nicknamed "The Untouchable" for his masterful defense; they are all inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Tennis has been quite popular among people of all ages. Guillermo Vilas is the greatest Latin American player of the Open Era, while Gabriela Sabatini is the most accomplished Argentine female player of all time—having reached #3 in the WTA Ranking, are both inductees into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Argentina reigns undisputed in Polo, having won more international championships than any other country and been seldom beaten since the 1930s. The Argentine Polo Championship is the sport's most important international team trophy. The country is home to most of the world's top players, among them Adolfo Cambiaso, the best in Polo history.
Historically, Argentina has had a strong showing within Auto racing. Juan Manuel Fangio was five times Formula One world champion under four different teams, winning 102 of his 184 international races, and is widely ranked as the greatest driver of all time. Other distinguished racers were Oscar Alfredo Gálvez, Juan Gálvez, José Froilán González, and Carlos Reutemann.
Besides many of the pasta, sausage and dessert dishes common to continental Europe, Argentines enjoy a wide variety of Indigenous and Criollo creations, including empanadas (a small stuffed pastry), locro (a mixture of corn, beans, meat, bacon, onion, and gourd), humita and mate.
The country has the highest consumption of red meat in the world, traditionally prepared as asado, the Argentine barbecue. It is made with various types of meats, often including chorizo, sweetbread, chitterlings, and blood sausage.
Common desserts include facturas (Viennese-style pastry), cakes and pancakes filled with dulce de leche (a sort of milk caramel jam), alfajores (shortbread cookies sandwiched together with chocolate, dulce de leche or a fruit paste), and tortas fritas (fried cakes)
Argentine wine, one of the world's finest, is an integral part of the local menu. Malbec, Torrontés, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay are some of the most sought-after varieties.
Some of Argentina's national symbols are defined by law, while others are traditions lacking formal designation. The Flag of Argentina consists of three horizontal stripes equal in width and colored light blue, white and light blue, with the Sun of May in the center of the middle white stripe. The flag was designed by Manuel Belgrano in 1812; it was adopted as a national symbol on 20 July 1816. The Coat of Arms, which represents the union of the provinces, came into use in 1813 as the seal for official documents. The Argentine National Anthem was written by Vicente López y Planes with music by Blas Parera, and was adopted in 1813. The National Cockade was first used during the May Revolution of 1810 and was made official two years later. The Virgin of Luján is Argentina's patron saint.
The hornero, living across most of the national territory, was chosen as the national bird in 1928 after a lower school survey. The ceibo is the national floral emblem and national tree, while the quebracho colorado is the national forest tree. Rhodochrosite is known as the national gemstone. The national sport is pato, an equestrian game that was popular among gauchos.
Argentine wine is the national liquor, and mate, the national infusion. Asado and locro are considered the national dishes.