painter, ethnographer, and photographer; b. 1946 in Warsaw. He studied painting under J. Cybis as well as graphic arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, graduating in 1971. Since 1980 he has been heading the painting and drawing studio at the Faculty of Design, obtaining a professorship in 1995.
Since the early 1980s he has been doing private fieldwork and documentation of folk music, first mainly in the area of Radom and southern Mazowsze, then also in the region of Lublin, and since 2002 - in Ukraine and Belarus. He searches for musical instruments, renovates them, and reconstructs traditional folk bands. During his trips to the countryside he accumulated a private ethnographic archive of audio, video, and photographic materials (including archival ones), along with a collection of instruments. He made the following documentary films: Ostatni wiejscy muzykanci (Last Musicians of the Countryside), Muzyka żydowska w pamięci wiejskich muzykantów (Jewish Music as Remembered by Folk Musicians), Ukraina. W poszukiwaniu pogańskich obrzędów (Ukraine: In Search for Pagan Rites), Muzykanci Gace z Radomskiego (The Gaca Musical Family of Radom), along with a series of 27 short films, created together with Monika Mencina, promoting folk music.
Andrzej Bieńkowski is an author of publications on the last generation of folk musicians, their customs and music, that capture disappearing folk culture, analyse why it is vanishing, and provide an account of its uniqueness and originality (e.g. Ostatni wiejscy muzykanci – ludzie, obyczaje, muzyka; Sprzedana muzyka). He is also a co-author of the CD series Muzyka Odnaleziona (Music Rediscovered). He has collaborated with the association Warszawski Dom Tańca (Warsaw Dance House), presented his recordings – together with Maria Baliszewska – on Polish Radio Programme 2 (e.g. in the Muzyka Odnaleziona/Music Rediscovered programme), and was a guest on Anna Szewczuk-Czech's programme Źródła (Sources). He established the publishing house Muzyka Odnaleziona which publishes the materials on folk music he collected, and the foundation Muzyka Odnaleziona (2012) that manages his ethnographic archives, digitalises the materials and makes them available to the public.
Andrzej Bieńkowski is the recipient of the Kolberg Award (1995), Nowid Award (2008) and the Silver Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis (2014).
updated: February 2015 (mkk)