Richard Shupbach

Stanford University, October 2007

I first met Lyova and Lena in the spring of 1970. We took to one another immediately. Lena swears that «right on the threshold» she knew that we shared the same sense of humor and irony. And so it would be for the three of us for 35 years, until Lyova’s death in the winter of 2005-6.

I loved all of his art, but one of the works that most struck me first and strongest was his rendition of the doll Karlsson, with the propeller in his back that permitted him to fly. There was something in the innocence in the design of that doll, that plump, smiling face — created I might add by a man who had left his left arm on the Finnish Front. The face was cherubic but wise, and utterly delightful.

I would return to Leningrad, as it was then called, and bring my year-old son, Michael, who got to play with Karlsson. Michael came back with us in the late ’80’s and was in a better position to experience Lyova’s work, and play again with Karlsson.

Michael saw Lyova one last time, just before his death. That last evening my son spent a great deal of time photographing Lyova’s work — inhaling, as it were, the man’s sense of creativity and humor.

He is now a puppet-builder. His work is viewable on . Tell me if you don’t see Lyova’s Karlsson in his cartoons and puppets.