Books &Norshtein 26 Dec 2009 08:15 am

Norshtein comics – 6

- This is the final chapter of the book I’ve been posting these last five weeks. It is a drawn diary kept by Tanya Usvayskaya while she worked for Yuri Norshtein‘s studio. The close-knit and personal relationship of all the members of the studio comes through, and we get to share some intimate moments with the animation master, Yurij Norshtein.

Richard O’connor, whose Asterisk Productions does wonderful animation of their own, gave the book to me as a gift, and I’m pleased to share it with you.

Note that the translation by the Japanese publisher isn’t always the clearest, yet something of the original Russian seems to come through. I’m transcribing the book without changing anything.

The first five parts of the book can be found here:
Norshtein Comics – 1
Norshtein Comics – 2
Norshtein Comics – 3
Norshtein Comics – 4
Norshtein Comics – 5

Here we continue with a chapter on “The Artist”:


“I am the leader of the art!”
Yurij Borisovich, with his wife, is dancing Flamenco.
“Yes,” agreed Francheska looking at him affectionately.

“Please tie me on the chair!”
For the film, “The Overcoat,” it is necessary to shoot a scene
where Arkaky is tied to a chair by his colleagues.
So he says, and sketches himself as Arkaky in front of a large mirror.

“It is better to tie a fool! Ha-ha-ha!”
While sketching
Norshtein slipped off the chair
and burst into a roar of laughter.

“I never realized that
woman’s breasts wave like waves,
and in it – there is a small ship!”
Norshtein, as with all artists,
loves to admire ladies forms.

Yurij searches for
wonderful expression on the TV.

He did not find “wonderful expression” and was offended.
He says: “What is the value of television?”

“It is outrageous! You understand nothing!”
Borisch in trousers of kimono (jinbei)
and in socks (not at all fearful)
scolds studio members.

“Absent heroes.”
Opening of exhibition of laureates of “Triumph” award
Yarbusova and Norshtein in Paris in 1998.
They were so tired of hanging sketches by themselves
that they were no more interested in the opening itself.

“What we call poetry is reality for children.”
Yurij told Nataliya Nikolaevna Abramova (his permanent heroic editor)
“Animation film is not a criterion. In art
it does not occupy any positions. I know about it.
Natasha, I am always thinking about it.”

“Animation – it is a continent without a support!”
Torture of Creation – Norshtein shouted to Natasha Abramova on the phone.
Any average entertainment films are much more meaningful than
what I currently am engaged with.
“I only wish that the bed will not be broken,” Tanya muttered.

In spite of all this
Norshtein continues working in animation films.

Drawing with a model – Norshtein looks into the eye piece of movie camera.

Norshtein, himself, wrote a short piece in the back of his student’s book:

    About Tanya

    Tatiana Usvayskaya is very unique artist. She has quite rear combination of very keen sense for fun and skill of sharp drawing at the same time. Her visual memory serves her fantastically!

    For the very first time I was surprised by her talent seeing her drawing where I was portrayed as a giant with running line of cheering like birds students behind me. Figures on the drawing were not bigger than a finger’s nail, but all that 15 or 20 characters were with incredible resemblance. I can’t understand how she could catch the resemblance in such a miniature size! Any scene from everyday life is transfered by her fantasy.

    Her beloved dog with nickname Pirat is a kind of superhero on her drawings. He is a gentleman, a doctor, a cook, her gallant cavalier and her taxi-driver.

    Gratefully to her kindness the dog became one of the heros on introduction and ending of TV programme ‘Good night, children!’

    A short movie can be done by any of her drawings. She doesn’t keep her drawings preciously. She scatters them everywhere, many of them are lost forever. Whenever I ask about some of her drawings, she answers: ‘I think, I have lost it… I’ll draw a new one!’

    She has a Mozart’s scale talent, that’s why so easy she can part with things done already and not be saddened by lost one. For Mozart was quite easier to compose a new piece than to look for something lost already.

    Tanya never corrects her drawings. If she has dislike of something, she redraws it again. She doesn’t think much of her talent, considering that to draw is very simple thing.

    I hope that publishing of this book with her drawings will help her to understand that to raise a people’s laugh over your drawings is quite tough job.

    Yuri Norshtein

One Response to “Norshtein comics – 6”

  1. on 27 Dec 2009 at 6:08 am 1.Fugitive said …

    Thanks so much for your wonderful website, full of magic and poetry ! I’m very happy to “fall” into your incredible world, just typing “Trnka” on google… I was looking for a film of Jiri Trnka, I’m quite sure he was the author of it, about a prince who was lost in the desert with three oranges. In each orange, there was a princess… Maybe you know this film ? Prokofiev made an opera named “The love of the three oranges”. But I can’t find the puppet movie…
    Kind regards and happy new year !

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