Val Telberg

(1910 - 1995) American (b. Russia)


Val Telberg's career as a photographer followed several years of travel and a number of jobs that had little to do with photography. Born Vladimir Telberg-von-Teleheim in Russia, he immigrated with his family to China in 1918. Ten years later, he came to the United States on a scholarship to Wittenberg College in Ohio and graduated with a B.S. in chemistry in 1932. He returned to China, where he worked in book publishing, magazine editing, multilingual broadcasting, and pharmaceutical sales. This last profession brought him back to the United States in 1938, and he worked at a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey until 1941. In 1942 he began to study painting at the Art Students League in New York City; there he met Kathleen Lambing, who taught him photography and whom he married in 1944. His first professional photographic experience came that year, when he was employed as a nightclub photographer in Florida and later at a portrait concession in Fall River, Massachusetts. In 1948 he returned to New York and did freelance photography. In addition to his commercial endeavors, Telberg did his own work, much of which involved experimental printing from multiple negatives. His pioneering work in this method was exhibited as early as 1948, in a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. He was included in In and Out of Focus, Edward Steichen's first major curatorial project as head of the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Photography, and in many major exhibitions in the United States and abroad. Telberg was the first photographer to receive the Huntington Hartford Fellowship, in 1952.
Lisa Hostetler
Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 229.
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