Andrzej Heidrich – designer of Polish banknotes
Graphic designer Andrzej Heidrich is an artist whose work we encounter every day. For over 50 years Poles have been using banknotes, documents and postage stamps designed by Andrzej Heidrich. We may say that his art literally “enters our homes”: he designed all the banknotes that have been in circulation in Poland since the mid-1970s. In response to a genuine interest of the general public, Narodowy Bank Polski has made available an e-publication about the artist on its website. ***
Andrzej Heidrich is one of the most outstanding Polish graphic artists whose art in the most literal sense very much suits our wallets. He has designed all banknotes that have been in circulation in Poland since the 1970s.
Andrzej Heidrich was born in Warsaw in 1928. He completed the Szkoła Rodziny Wojskowej (Military Family School) primary school in the Officers' Żoliborz district of Warsaw, the middle school of printmaking in Konwiktorska Street and the famous Fine Arts High School in Górnośląska Street. He studied at the Faculty of Graphic Arts of the Academy of Fine Arts, graduating with honours in 1954. He prepared his graduation work under Professor Jan Marcin Szancer, a student of Józef Mehoffer who was in turn a student of Jan Matejko. As part of his graduation work he made illustrations to Moliere's work "Tartuffe or the Hypocrite".
In 1949. Heidrich started to cooperate with the "Czytelnik" publishing house where he worked for over 40 years. He illustrated books, designed covers, prepared graphic designs for albums and publishing series, for the books authored, among others, by Ryszard Kapuściński, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz and Leszek Kołakowski. In 1974, he became the chief graphic designer of "Czytelnik". Book illustrations and graphic designs yielded him several dozen prizes, among others, for the illustrations to "Austeria" by Julian Stryjkowski, and "Ogrody” (Gardens) as well as "Młodość Pana Twardowskiego” (The youth of Mr Twardowski) by Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz. Since the late 1950s, he also designed post stamps, many of which have been awarded in several competitions.
His cooperation with the National Bank of Poland started in 1960 when the Bank invited him to a closed competition to design the new 1000 złoty banknote. Three designs were awarded in the competition, among them the one by Heidrich. In subsequent years he was commissioned by the NBP to make dozens of banknote drawings and designs. However, only in 1975, i.e. 15 years after starting cooperation with the NBP, was the first banknote by Heidrich put into circulation - the 500 złoty banknote depicting Tadeusz Kościuszko. I was really moved - he says. When I paid with the banknote or saw other people paying I often caught myself thinking: it's my work.
Andrzej Heidrich designed the bank note series called "The Great Poles" (in circulation Since 1996) and five new banknotes with Poland's monarchs that were introduced in 1995, the year of the redenomination of the złoty, and have been in circulation since then. In 2005 he designed the first Polish collector banknote commemorating the Polish Pope.
He is also the author of the designs of passports, the emblems of eagle on military caps, police badges, distinctions for Polish soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, coat of arms of Poland’s regions and cities.
Now I work for myself - he says. So, he designed for himself the "Gallery of Portraits of Polish Rulers" - 44 watercolour miniatures depicting images of Polish kings and dukes. The gallery starts with Mieszko I and Dobrawa and ends with the "uncrowned ruler" Marshal Józef Piłsudski. He also painted for himself "Zmysły" (Senses). "Mity. legendy i symbole" (Myths, legends and symbols) and a series of beautiful miniatures with images of Mikołaj Rej, Jan Kochanowski, Adam Mickiewicz and Stanisław Wyspiański. He may be one of the last Polish artists for whom “small is beautiful” and whose art we encounter every day.
Andrzej Heidrich was awarded the Order of Polonia Restituta (1977), the Medal for Merit to Banking (1989), Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1999) and the Gold Medal for Merit to Culture - Gloria Artis (2006).