Photos prof. Roman Reinfuss in Museum Ethnographic in Krakow

Photographs by Professor Roman Reinfuss at the Ethnographical Museum in Krakow

A series of 32 photos was taken at Lipnica Wielka on April 30, 1969 at the Smreczak family farm. Due to the fact that at the end of August Heródek fell ill and got to hospital in Nowy Targ where he died on September 1, they are probably ones of his last photos,

The photographs register a few situations. The first of them show Heródek playing the violin, and his music is being recorded on the tape recorder. Next to him there are Bożena Kłobuszowska, a psychologist and Zbigniew Poprawski, a theatre director and a folklore lover. On other photos Heródek presents his sculptures (we can see as many as 15), placed on the ground, on the logs and on the top of a fuel wood pile. We can see his typical figures of angels with wings, Madonnas, bishops with miters and the Resurrected Christ with the banner. Such spontaneous ‘exhibitions’ of sculptures brought from the shed outside or to the meadow, were Heródek’s favorite performances. He enjoyed them even better when he found listeners to his tales of the saints’ good life.

Next photos show Karol Wójciak looking at the reproductions of works of art. Next to him there appears a curious elderly woman and a boy from the Smreczak family. It is possible that the boy acted as an interpreter since Heródek, as we know from several accounts expressed himself in a mumbling way and was best understood by children. The situation of looking at the pictures was registered in ten photos which may point to the longest lasting meeting with Heródek. On two of them we can see Heródek who is looking at Rubens’s Bacchanalia with focused attention. Most certainly it is the moment described by Kłobuszowska studying the sculptor’s esthetical taste and creative motivations. ‘He most strongly reacted to Rubens (…) Every painting gave rise to a long comment, cries of admiration; he touched the contours of the painted bodies and objects with his fingers, saying ‘how beautiful it is’. In order to make sure that such strong reactions were not a coincidence, I showed him a few days later 40 colorful reproductions, among which there was only one painting by Rubens. Karol looked through the pictures without any reaction and only when he got to ‘Bacchanalia’, he became clearly livened up, his mimics and gestures changed. He remained focused on the reproduction for half an hour’ (see B. Kłobuszowska, Karol Wójciak Heródek. A Portrait of a Folk Artist.; Polish Folk Art; Polska Sztuka Ludowa , 1972, vol 4, p. 213).

Further photographs show Wójciak carrying a basolia and sitting down with them on the stairs in front of a house. We learn from the article by Janusz Mroczek, that Heródek used to play not only the violin but the basolia when he participated in all the local celebrations such as weddings, christenings and even funeral parties.

The last three photos show Heródek carving with a clasp knife. There is one detail worth our attention, namely when he was bending over the illustrations of works of art and when he was carving a figure, he took off his cap from his head as if he wanted to underline that such moments should be distinguished by a gesture of respect.

Grzegorz Graff

*Dated on the basis of: Janusz Mroczek, Heródek’s Music Making (Heródkowe Muzykowanie), ‘Polish Folk Art’ (Polska Sztuka Ludowa), 1972, vol. 4, footnote 4.