Mexican culture is a rich, complex blend of Native American, Spanish, and American traditions. Rural areas are populated by Native Americans, descendants of the highly developed societies of the Maya, Aztec, and Toltecs, and by Spanish and mestizo farmers and labourers; each of these heritages has enriched the regional culture. In the cities both European, particularly Spanish and French, and North American influences are evident. Most contemporary Mexican artists are striving to produce identifiably Mexican work that blends Spanish, Native American, and modern European styles.
Mexican writing in Spanish dates from the 16th century, and many works make use of themes from the oral traditions of the country’s indigenous peoples. Noted Mexican writers of the 20th century include the novelists Mariano Azuela, Martín Luis Guzmán, Andrés Henestrosa, Agustín Yáñez, and Carlos Fuentes; the playwrights Víctor Barroso and Rodolfo Usigli; and the poets and essayists Alfonso Reyes and Octavio Paz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990.
The distinctive folk songs and dances heard from region to region are accompanied by several kinds of guitar-based ensembles. The ubiquitous mariachi, or popular strolling bands, consist of a standard group of instruments: two violins, two five-string guitars, and a guittarón, or large bass guitar, and usually a pair of trumpets. In Veracruz the usual musical ensemble is a harp and two small guitars. Marimba ensembles are found in the south. The corrido, a narrative folk ballad in rhymed quatrains derived from the Spanish romanza, is probably Mexico’s most outstanding contribution to American folk music, as well as folk poetry. Some pre-Hispanic dances survive, with Hispanic-influenced music; they include the concheros and voladores dances. In the field of concert or art music, Mexican musicians led by the composer and conductor Carlos Chávez have received critical acclaim throughout the world. The National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico was founded in 1928 by Chávez and the Ballet Folklórico in 1952 by the choreographer Amalia Hernández.
Spanish colonial architecture, constructed in Gothic, plateresque (a 16th-century Spanish style suggestive of silver plate), classic, and Baroque styles sometimes decorated with Native American motifs, is found throughout Mexico. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, first during the short reign of the Habsburg emperor Maximilian and later under President Porfirio Díaz, the French splendours of the second Empire style were introduced into the capital. Díaz also commissioned the ornate Palace of Fine Arts, completed in the 1930s. Since 1945 an architectural renaissance has occurred in Mexico, attracting worldwide attention. The new buildings erected at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, designed by a group of artists and architects under the direction of Carlos Lazo, feature outstanding murals in fresco and mosaic; among these are works by the architect and painter Juan O’Gorman. Another Mexican architect, Félix Candela, created highly original concrete shell designs for several churches and for the sports palace at the 1968 Olympic Games.
A rich tradition of painting and sculpture existed in Mexico long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. Combining this tradition with imported Spanish techniques, artists of the colonial period produced works of remarkable depth and purity. The late colonial years, however, were characterized by a purely academic output. One of the most significant artists of the present century was José Guadalupe Posada, who produced violent, powerful posters, lithographs, and woodcuts of contemporary scenes. His followers, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, were the leaders of a remarkable group of distinctly Mexican artists who revived the art of fresco painting and produced important easel painting as well. Frida Kahlo used motifs from Mexican popular art in her paintings, which mix fantasy with autobiography and self portraiture.
As weavers, potters, and silversmiths, Mexican artisans produce a variety of beautiful and distinctive products, which attract connoisseurs throughout the world. These artisans are also noted for their work in wood, glass, and leather. "Mexico" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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