Izrail Aronovich Shvartsman
August 30, 1920
Leonid Aronovich Shvartsman (Russian: Леонид Аронович Шварцман; born 30 August 1920) is a Soviet and Russian animator and artist. He spent most of his creative career at the Soyuzmultfilm Studio, in Moscow, where he served as art director on Cheburashka, 38 Parrots, The Golden Antelope, The Scarlet Flower, The Snow Queen and many other cartoons.
Shvartsman was born in Minsk, BSSR, and grew up in a Yiddish-speaking religious family in the old city. His father had a job as an accountant at an brick factory but he died prematurely when Shvartsman was just 13 years of age. His maternal grandparents immigrated to the US in 1924, which left the family in debt and he had to take care of his siblings. After his elementary education ended due his interest in communist youth movements, he attended a gymnasium which today has been converted into a public school. In 1935, he attended a then new art school with his friend and future colleague Lev Milchin. After graduating, they both moved to Leningrad in hopes to pursue artistic careers, but the Academy of Fine Arts never acknowledged their applications and they were forced to go to a preparatory program in Leningrad Art School. Shvartsman's mother and nephew starved to death in the Siege of Leningrad, and, in the words of him, "not a single one of my peers ever returned to the battlefield". He legally changed his name to Izrail after the country Israel won the Six-Day war.
Homeless, without parents or siblings, and being denied an art career, he sought out more marginal corners in the creative world. In 1945, he applied to the film institute, VGIK, and in 1951 when he graduated, secured the entry to Soyuzmultfilm, where he stayed his entire career. Shvartsman is credited on 70 films at the studio. Shvartsman is left-handed.
He is known as the creator of the visual image of Cheburashka since he sculpted and animated the character himself. Shvartsman is beloved in America and Europe, and even has a cult following in Japan for creating the character. Hayao Miyazaki said he began to animate again once he saw his work on The Snow Queen. On his 100th birthday, Vladimir Putin described him in a letter as an patriarch of the school of national animation and a man with an extraordinary gift. He held a ceremony in Moscow for his 100th birthday, and at that ceremony the animation studio he worked for years congratulated him.
- Katz, Maya (2016). Drawing the Iron Curtain: Jews and the Golden Age of Soviet Animation. Rutgers University Press. p. 124. ISBN 9780813577036.
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- "El "segundo padre" de Cheburashka cumple cien años (in Spanish)". Aurora. August 30, 2020. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
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