Beyond the traditional, Mexican artists have a special characteristic: their ingenuity.
Mexican creativity is enviable, as they are masters at turning the simple into something extraordinary. They never stop learning to avoid obstacles and reach the top.
Among them, we find more than 25 Mexican artists who have managed to excel in different artistic fields such as music, film, painting and more . Therefore, we have compiled a list of Mexican artists who, thanks to their ingenuity, creativity and talent, have managed to make their names heard around the world.
So, what do you say we get to know these Mexican artists with inspiring stories who have achieved success with their talent? Let the mariachis play in the background!
1. Frida Kahlo
We start with one of the most iconic Mexican artists of recent times: Frida Kahlo. Her perseverance and great talent has earned her such important recognition worldwide.
Frida Kahlo, like Dalí, was a Mexican artist who created her own character in her paintings. Thus, Kahlo, a faithful follower of the ideas of her country’s revolutionary nationalism, reflected, in her self-portraits, her indigenous clothing, her distinguished eyebrows and mustache, and her passion for beer in a sincere and profound way.
Frida Kahlo’s paintings represented the life and the longing for freedom submerged by her serious physical problems that she experienced from a very young age. Thus, the message of Frida Kahlo’s most famous paintings can be summed up in her own words: “Why do I want feet if I have wings to fly?
Source: France 24
2. Diego Rivera
If there is someone who should not be missing in this list of Mexican artists, it is Mexico’s most famous muralist: Diego Rivera.
Also known as “El Sapo” (The Toad), Frida Kahlo’s husband got a scholarship to study in Europe at the age of 20. This is how he was able to study the works of Italian Renaissance masters. He was even able to meet the greatest artists and critics such as Picasso, Seurat, Modigliani and Cézanne.
After this experience, this Mexican artist mastered the techniques and materials of fresco painting. If you are wondering what this type of painting is, the fresco technique is executed on a fresh plaster of lime and sand, whose colors used are pigments diluted in water.
Precisely, this technique helped Diego Rivera to become a Mexican artist famous for standing out in painting, especially for developing the Mexican muralism movement.
Mexican muralism is the first American avant-garde that places the peasant as the hero of history. Therefore, Diego Rivera is considered as one of the Mexican artists referring to the national identity, because he used to capture the social and historical themes about Mexico with great perspective and color.
There are other characteristics that represent Diego Rivera’s murals such as the constant expression to represent everything that was damaged in society and the many political messages about the Mexican situation of that time.
One of Diego Rivera’s most famous murals is The Creation. It was created in 1922 and represents the first mural done by this Mexican artist. In it, Rivera shows aesthetic elements about his different travel experiences around Tehuantepec in Mexico.
Another of the Mexican artist’s great works is Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central, painted in 1947. This great work of art highlights elements such as the catrina with a feathered stole representing Quetzalcoatl. In addition, in this mural the Mexican artist is placed as one of the protagonists.
Just like these paintings by the Mexican artist, there are many that have gone around the world to exhibit them and study the techniques that Diego Rivera used when creating.
3. Salma Hayek
One of the most acclaimed Mexican artists in Hollywood and by Mexicans is Salma Hayek.
In case you didn’t know, this Mexican artist is not only an actress, but also a producer, businesswoman, model and philanthropist. In addition, on several occasions, she has been on the cover of important magazines and representative of non-governmental organizations that have given her great influence around the world.
That is why Salma Hayek is a Mexican pride and a source of inspiration for many people. The great love she has earned from her compatriots is also due to the fact that she has distinguished herself by being successful and leaving the Mexican country high in every opportunity she has had.
Salma Hayek’s great wit along with her incredible talent and charisma made her be considered one of the most influential women in the world.
Source: El Universal
4. Alejandro González Iñárritu
Alejandro González Iñárritu is a filmmaker who has positioned himself among the best in the world for his incredible works.
This Mexican artist was born in 1963 in Mexico City and from a very young age he traveled to different parts of the world as a freighter on large ships. In 1986, after studying communications, he studied cinematography and composed music for six Mexican films.
After this he went to the United States to study film directing, where he was able to meet important figures in the entertainment industry. In 2003, he directed his film “21 Grams” with important American actors such as Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro.
Then, in 2005, with an all-star cast, he made “Babel”, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. From that moment on, this Mexican artist’s career took off with his most acclaimed feature films: Birdman and El Renacido .
González Iñárritu has joined the list of Mexican winners at the Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTA, Cannes Film Festival and more.
Source: Los Angeles Times
5. Natalia Lafourcade
In recent years, Natalia Lafourcade has become the most listened to Mexican artist internationally.
Her main musical inspirations were Julieta Venegas, a Mexican singer well known worldwide for presenting songs to empower women, and PJ Harvey. This is how this passion for music accompanied her throughout her life.
She started as a songwriter and then became a renowned singer in other countries with only 33 years old . Among her main songs you can find “Hasta la raíz”, “Te quiero dar” and “En el 2000”.
At the 2018 Oscars ceremony, Natalia Lafourcade took all the applause when she performed, along with Mexican artist Gael García Bernal, the song Recuérdame, from the acclaimed animated film Coco. if you saw it, you must surely remember that performance!
Source: El Universal
6. Emmanuel Lubezki
Emmanuel Lubezki, also known as El Chivo, is a famous Mexican director and producer who became famous for having participated in important Oscar-winning films .
This Mexican artist is known for being a great master of photography, not for nothing the composition of his framing and his sequence shots in the films he has participated in are considered visual genius.
One of Lubezki’s most famous films is Birdman, with which he won an Oscar for best cinematographer. In addition, his work has been recognized in two other famous films: Gravity and The Reborn.
Undoubtedly, this Mexican artist is a great collector of Oscars in his career and is working to keep adding more awards to his shelf.
Source: Los Angeles Times
7. Yalitza Aparicio
From the state of Oaxaca, Yalitza Aparicio is the actress who starred in the acclaimed film Roma directed by director Alfonso Cuaron.
With her character “Cleo”, Yalitza jumped to fame in an extraordinary way, she was even the main image on several covers of renowned magazines in the world.
Her confident and assertive personality in front of the press made her one of the most beloved Mexican artists in her country. In addition, she is considered an active character in challenging beauty standards.
Her constant fight to defend her love for Mexican culture has generated a fast following, as well as a greater number of international opportunities.
Source: Avance Newspaper
8. José Alfredo Jiménez
If we want to talk about the best Mexican composers, José Alfredo Jiménez is the artist who stands out at the top of the list.
Undoubtedly, Mexico’s golden age was marked by Jiménez’s songs. There is no Mexican who does not know at least one of his songs.
This Mexican artist, born in Guanajuato, transmitted the pride of belonging to Mexico through his countless songs, which resonate to this day in many parts of the world. His most iconic song is called “El Rey”, which is considered the second anthem for Mexicans because of the meaning it has.
Finally, we can say that Jiménez is a beloved Mexican figure who fought for Mexicans to love their nation more, despite any adversity or crisis.
Source: La Crónica de Hoy
9. Lila Avilés
Actress and producer Lila Avilés became a successful Mexican artist since 2019 when she released the acclaimed film “La Camarista”.
This film production made Lila Avilés achieve 6 awards, being one of the most outstanding at the Portland Film Festival.
You may think that with all these awards, Lila Avilés has had the best studies in cinematography, but the most remarkable thing about her career is that she is a film director without formal studies .
At 36 years old, Lila Avilés is a promising filmmaker because of her self-taught ability to learn about filmmaking. Although she has participated as an actress in commercials and theaters since she was young, all these experiences have helped her to direct her own projects and achieve the favoritism of critics.
In a few more years, this great film artist will be parading on the most important red carpets with awards and recognitions. At the moment, she is working on important productions that will soon be released to the world cinema.
Source: TVN News
10. Guillermo del Toro
Another member of our list of Mexican artists, who thanks to their creativity have put Mexico on a high level, is Guillermo del Toro, a Mexican artist of great popularity around the world. If we think of a Mexican director, the name of the incomparable Guillermo del Toro immediately comes to mind.
This great filmmaker, born in Guadalajara, has won four Oscar statuettes in the Best Picture and Best Director categories so far.
He is also one of the best-known figures in Hollywood for his striking creativity in telling mythical stories. But what stands out most about Guillermo del Toro as a person and celebrity is his deep love for Mexico.
Source: Vanity Fair
11. Julieta Venegas
Julieta Venegas is part of the successful list of international Mexican authors and singers, in her case of Latin pop music. One of the particularities of this Mexican artist is her mastery of several instruments, such as guitar, piano and accordion.
Julieta Venegas Percevault, was born in Long Beach, United States, on November 24, 1970, but grew up in Tijuana, Mexico, where she studied music since she was 8 years old. Therefore, we believe she should not be missing in our list of famous Mexican artists.
It is estimated that he sold more than ten million albums and on more than one occasion his songs have been at the top of the music charts. In addition, this Mexican celebrity holds 1 Grammy Award and 5 Latin Grammy Awards.
Her parents, both professional photographers, passed on to her a passion for art in general, so since she was a child she has taken training courses in music, painting and dance, among other disciplines.
Image: La Tercera
Julieta Venegas is part of a group of great Mexican artists who stand out for their philanthropy: she is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and regularly participates in various solidarity actions in Mexico and other cities around the world.
Some of Julieta Venegas’ best known songs are “Limón y Sal”, “Me Voy”, “Andar Conmigo” and “Lento”, although her extensive repertoire includes 7 studio albums, 22 singles, 22 soundtracks and various collaborations and acoustic recordings.
12. José María Velazco
And from music we move on to painting: José María Velasco is the author of some of Mexico’ s famous and world-renowned paintings . This Mexican artist was born on July 6, 1840 in Temascalcingo, State of Mexico, and his full name was José María Tranquilino Francisco de Jesús Velasco y Gómez-Obregón.
In a context in which artists painted about religion, mythology and human figures, Velasco made Mexican geography the main motif of his painting. Thus, his talent for depicting landscapes and documenting nature placed him at the top of the list of famous Mexican artists, while society labeled him as a revolutionary. Without a doubt, Velasco’s landscapes crossed borders.
Velasco studied at the Academia de Bellas Artes and, upon finishing his studies in 1868, he began his artistic production. This Mexican painter created close to 300 oil paintings, in addition to his watercolors, lithographs and miniature paintings. Among his works, the landscapes of the Valley of Mexico stand out.
He was nicknamed by art experts as “Prominent Painter” and “Architect of the Air”. Undoubtedly, he is one of the leading Mexican artists recognized for his passion for art and local identity, and one of the best painters in the world.
13. Luis Miguel
Although the famous singer nicknamed El Sol was born in Puerto Rico, his strong Mexican roots allowed him to obtain Mexican citizenship in 1991, placing him among the best Mexican artists of all time.
His father took him to live in Mexico at an early age and at only 15 years old he won his first Grammy . Since then, this Mexican singer has had a string of hits (and controversies) that continue to this day.
“Ahora te puedes marchar”, “La incondicional” and “Culpable o no” are some of Luis Miguel’s best known songs. In addition, his album “Romance” is the third best-selling album in Mexico’s history and he recently became the first Mexican artist to break the Spotify download record, according to Infobae.
We can’t deny that his current success is driven by the Netflix production that documents his life and work: “Luis Miguel, la serie”. All this places him, without a doubt, in the list of the richest Mexican artists: the approximate value of his fortune would be 180 million dollars.
Although her identity card says she was born in Costa Rica, Chavela Vargas considers herself a Mexican singer. One of the most famous episodes of her life was when in an interview she was asked about her nationality:
– Yes, I am Mexican.
– Chavela but you were born in Costa Rica.
– Mexicans are born wherever the hell they want!
Chavela Vargas arrived in Mexico at a very young age and managed to exploit her music to the fullest, earning her place as one of the most controversial and inspiring international Mexican artists.
Chavela was considered by many to be the best interpreter of Mexican composer José Alfredo Jiménez. Among Chavela Vargas’ most famous songs are: “La llorona” and “Paloma Negra”.
Her life marked by alcoholism, stage fright, her belief in the Nahuatl gods and her particular style of dressing (and living) were depicted in the documentary Chavela. This Mexican artist was the representation of freedom in all its forms: she lived, sang and loved as she wished.
Image: Televisa – AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
15. Dr. Atl
If we talk about paintings by famous Mexican artists, we cannot fail to mention Gerardo Murillo, better known as Dr. Atl, who was a landscape painter, writer and volcanologist.
After studying painting, philosophy and law in Europe, he became known for being one of the precursors of Mexican muralism.
Other disciplines in which he participated: exploration, geology, philosophy, history, art criticism, politics, stylism and journalism. He also made caricatures and wrote essays.
This artist is another example of how the real names of famous Mexicans often do not coincide with their pseudonyms. Murillo decided to give himself the pseudonym Atl, which means water in Nahuatl, and he added the title of Doctor of Philosophy, which was suggested by the poet Leopoldo Lugones.
16. Aurora Reyes
Aurora Reyes is considered worldwide as the first Mexican muralist. Throughout her life she created 7 monumental pieces, which are located in Mexico City.
Her work was characterized by her commitment to the struggle of women workers and peasants. His paintings, on the other hand, deal with everyday scenes and children. For her legacy, in general, we include her in the list of the most famous Mexican artists.
did you know that Aurora was a close friend of other famous Mexican painters, such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera? In addition, she worked as a plastic arts teacher.
And not only that: this multifaceted Mexican artist also dedicated herself to writing and poetry. Her literary work is marked by works such as “Nueva estancias en el desierto”, “Humanos paisajes” and “Espiral en retorno”. Her defiant words were the cause of a veto by the Mexican government.
Image: Fahrenheit Magazine
17. Felicia Garza
Among the best known Mexican transgender artists we cannot fail to highlight Felicia Garza, who made the gender change at the age of 74.
For decades, this artist triumphed as Felipe Gil, a well-known figure in Mexican music who went on to win awards as a composer, until she dared to fulfill her dream of becoming a woman.
After years of searching for answers with psychologists and through religion, she learned to wear makeup and high heels to design her new life, despite not having the approval of her family. Undoubtedly, she is one of the international Mexican artists who deserve a separate recognition for everything they had to go through to get to where they are.
18. Joan Sebastian
José Manuel Figueroa, better known as Joan Sebastian, went on to win 5 Grammys and 7 Latin Grammys. Also known as the “Poeta del Pueblo”, this Mexican artist became a legend for the country and was one of the singers with more awards won in history.
His best known songs are: “Tatuajes”, “Eso y más” and “Secreto de Amor”. He also developed his talent as an actor and participated in several soap operas, being the protagonist of them.
Although he wrote his first verses since his childhood, what Joan Sebastián wanted more than anything was to be a priest . Although his father told him he was “crazy”, Joan was faithful to his feelings and entered a seminary in Morelos, but he finally dropped out and formed his first group, “Los Crazy Babies”. From there, he began to gain ground in the art world as one of the most famous Mexican composers.
However, in 1998, he was diagnosed with bone cancer, a disease that slowly faded away. And after fighting for more than a decade, he finally lost the battle on July 13, 2015. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most famous Latin artists in the world.
19. Cocó Cecé
Cassandra Balcázar, also known as Cocó Cecé, managed to make a place for herself among the most famous Mexican artists. Some of her first singles were “Niki” and “Bestias de Ciudad”.
One of her most important moments as an established artist was when she performed at the 2016 Semana de las Juventudes and got a great reception from the public. Although her career is just beginning, she has a very promising future ahead of her.
“With my songs I have always tried to give a balance to my life, I have touched on thousands of topics, from bullying, love, leaving home, etc.” , said the artist according to the portal Indie Rocks.
Image: Indie Rocks
20. Lila Downs
Born in Oaxaca, singer Lila Downs takes her roots very seriously and tries to vindicate them in every performance. Her work is characterized by defending and spreading Mexican culture; therefore, both her clothing line and her music have become the best tools to do so.
She is one of the most promising Mexican singers, as she has a unique style in everything she does. Her music combines regional sounds with more modern ones, and she sings in Spanish as well as in Mayan, Zapotec, Mixtec and English.
One of Lila Downs’ most legendary performances was during the 75th Latin Grammy Awards, held in 2012. There she sang with Caetano Veloso the song “Burn it Blue”, from the movie “Frida”.
The plus that makes this Mexican artist even more interesting is that, in addition to being a singer, she is a social activist and seeks to help the indigenous women of the country. For this reason, she often participates in charity events and supports many social movements. it is impossible not to highlight her as one of the most important Mexican artists today!
21. Diego Luna
Diego Luna Alexander, better known as Diego Luna, was born on December 29, 1979 in Toluca, State of Mexico. He is the son of set designer Alejandro Luna and costume designer Fiona Alexander.
Diego Luna was able to consolidate himself as one of the most successful Mexicans internationally, as he managed to conquer Hollywood and has been recognized with important awards thanks to his great acting talent.
Since his childhood, the actor showed great admiration for his father’s work, and at the age of 8 he began his career with the short film “El último fin de año”. Later, in 1992, he was chosen to star in the soap opera, “El Abuelo y Yo” , alongside Gael García Bernal, who since then became one of his best friends, and who is also part of this list of famous Mexican artists.
His first feature film was “Ámbar”, an adventure movie directed by Luis Estrada. But it was with the film “Y Tu Mamá También” that he achieved international fame and established himself as one of the best known Mexican actors.
Star Wars fans will surely know him for his role as Cassian Ander in “Rogue One”, while Netflix addicts will surely have him for his role in “Narcos”.
22. Gael Garcia Bernal
The renowned actor of great Hollywood movies and many famous romances could not be missing in this list of Mexican artists.
Gael García Bernal was born on November 30, 1978 in Guadalajara, in a family of actors, and began to take his first steps in acting in small plays. His television debut was at the age of 11, when he was selected to participate in “Teresa”. Three years later, he began to achieve his place as one of the most promising Mexican actors for his role in the series “El abuelo y yo”.
Years later, Gael García Bernal moved to London to enroll at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where he began his studies in drama and made his first appearances in short films such as “De tripas corazón”, in 1996.
His first film, “Amores perros”, earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. This title would be followed by many others that you surely know, such as “Y tu mamá también” or “El crimen del Padre Amaro”, which were also recognized by the Academy.
But undoubtedly, the works that made this actor one of the best known Mexican figures were “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004), Almodovar’s “Bad Education” (2004) and “Babel” (2006).
In addition, together with his friend Diego Luna, they own the production company Canana Films which, since 2006, has produced numerous titles.
23. Diego Boneta
Diego Andrés González Boneta, better known as Diego Boneta, was born on November 29, 1990 in Mexico City and is a Mexican actor and singer. He earned his place among the most popular Mexican artists after starring in the movie “Rock of Ages” with Tom Cruise and other well-known actors, and the biographical series “Luis Miguel”.
Diego Boneta made his acting debut in 2002, when he participated in the reality show Código F.A.M.A. He also participated in well-known children’s and youth telenovelas, such as Alegrijes y rebujos, Misión S.O.S. and Rebelde.
As a singer, he released his eponymous debut album with his first single Responde in 2005 and a Portuguese version in 2006. In 2008, Diego Boneta released his second album called Indigo, in which he released two singles: Perdido en Ti and Millón de Años. Undoubtedly, one of the most talented Mexican artists that the country has.
In 2017, Diego Boneta became Luis Miguel and, to this day, it is practically impossible to separate him from the character. According to the actor, “it was a project that changed everyone’s life”.
24. Juan Gabriel
Alberto Aguilera Valadez, better known as Juan Gabriel, was born in Parácuaro, Michoacán on January 7, 1950 and died in Santa Monica, California on August 28, 2016.
Juan Gabriel gained his worldwide fame for being a Mexican performer, singer, songwriter, composer, arranger, music producer, musician, philanthropist and film, theater and television actor. He made numerous contributions to popular music in Spanish in different genres such as ballad, ranchera, bolero, pop, rumba flamenca, salsa, cumbia and tango, among many others, including even lullabies.
He was the leading singer of regional Mexican music, selling more than 100 million records worldwide. But aside from his musical talent, Juan Gabriel was also known for his many charitable works.
Juan Gabriel’s sexual orientation was always a topic of conversation, as the artist never made his preference clear, but he gave people something to talk about with his behavior, colorful clothes and his unique way of dancing. As a consequence, the artist received, throughout his life, insults, slander and mockery towards his person.
Regarding this, the Mexican artist said in an interview: “I have had friends, as I have had female friends, I never had sexual preferences of any kind, I never grew up with those things, because I grew up alone, I grew up wild”.
For all these reasons, he was undoubtedly one of the greatest, most influential and successful Latin American artists in history .
25. José José
José Rómulo Sosa Ortiz, also known as José José, was a Mexican singer, musician, record producer and actor . His successful career and great public acceptance earned him the nickname “El Príncipe de la Canción” (The Prince of Song).
Born into a family of musicians, José José began his musical career as a teenager playing guitar and singing serenades. Today, he is considered one of the most important Mexican artists of the second half of the 20th century.
Image: Los Angeles Times
BONUS: Carlos Cortés, Jaime Baksht and Michelle Couttolenc (Oscar 2021)
You may remember hearing Carlos Cortés, Jaime Baksht and Michelle Couttolenc named, as they were the Mexican artists nominated for the 2021 Oscar Awards. But not only that, under the category of “Best Sound”, these Mexican artists finally took home the award for their work in the film “The Sound of Metal”.
Michelle Couttolenc made history by achieving the position of the first Mexican woman to win an Oscar award, although it is not the first time she has worked on an award-winning film.
Michelle began her career in France and today specializes in sound mixing. She worked on films such as “I’m not here anymore”, “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Golden Cage”.
We include her in the list of the most recognized international Mexican artists for her work in more than 100 films and for the Oscar she recently won. In addition, her participation in the film industry has also led her to win Ariel and BAFTA awards, among other recognitions.
Carlos Cortés is a sound engineer who participated in more than 80 different film projects, working with great Mexican artists and other nationalities.
Among his best known productions are “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “Nuestro Tiempo”, “Tempestad” and “The Sound of Metal”. Carlos was also recognized with a BAFTA and Ariel awards, in addition, of course, to his recent Oscar.
Jaime Baksht’s portfolio in the area of sound for several films is quite extensive. His most interesting works were “La ley de Herodes”, “El laberinto del Fauno”, “Arráncame la Vida”, “Rudo y Cursi” and “Abel”. Baksht, like his Mexican colleagues, has also won awards such as Ariel and BAFTA.
Undoubtedly, these sound professionals deserved to be part of this list of living and deceased Mexican artists that we want to highlight today.
Image: Glamour Mexico
After reviewing this list of Mexican artists, we have been able to know the enormous talent and example of overcoming their stories and achievements. However, the most remarkable thing about their trajectory is that these Mexican artists did not forget their roots, but used their influence to raise the name of their beloved Mexico.
If you have the dream of achieving great success like these Mexican artists, start training yourself to develop all the talent you have in you.