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Carl Oscar Borg
(1879-1947)


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"California Oaks"
c. 1915-1920
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches


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Carl Oscar Borg was born in Dals-Grinstad, Sweden on March 3, 1879. He began copying pictures from a reproduction of King Gustavus Adlophus and yellowing etchings in the old family bible as a child. At 14, Borg worked for Pastor and Mrs. Nilman in exchange for room and board. Recognizing Borg's talents, Pastor Nilman arranged an apprenticeship to a master house painter-decorator in Vänersborg. His success as a house painter-decorator proved to be successful and Borg left to Stockholm in hopes of becoming a successful independent artist. This venture proved to be unsuccessful and instead he found work with a ship painting firm. Borg’s bad luck stayed with him when he sailed to England where he was robbed of all his possessions. While down on his luck, he continued to sketch on any scrap of paper he was able to get his hands on. One day, while he was sketching on the docks of sailors and ships, George Johansen, owner of a firm specializing in portraits and marine paintings, saw Borg’s works and offered him a position. In 1901, Borg left to America and arrived in California in 1903. His reputation as a hard worker gave Borg his first opportunity when Danish photographer Christian Pedersen offered him partnership in his modest studio. During this period, Borg took photographs and painted signs. In the fall of 1908, Borg spent 9 months with Eva Lummis visiting her son in Teguciagalpa, Honduras. Upon his return, in 1909, Borg had gained the reputation of being an explorer, painter, book and artifact collector, scholar, pundit, and poet. He gained patronage from Hearst and was given the opportunity to visit and study old master artists of Europe and North Africa for four years at Hearst’s expense. Borg’s trip was full of success exhibiting in various European cities. He settled in Santa Barbara from 1918-1925 where he taught at the Santa Barbara School of the Arts, painted, exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, and held regular open houses. Borg moved to Hollywood in 1925 and taught at the California Art Institute whiles working as an art director for Douglas Fairbanks designing the highly acclaimed full length color film The Black Pirate. He made three trips to Sweden in the 1930s and decided to move to Sweden in 1938. Borg returned to Santa Barbara in 1945 where he died on May 8, 1947. His biography was published in Sweden posthumously. His subjects include Hopi and Navajo Indians, cowboys, historical scenes, landscapes, marines, and missions.

Member: California Art Club; Laguna Beach Art Association; San Francisco Art Association; California Society of Etchers; Salmagundi Club; Associate of the National Academy of Design; California Watercolor Society; Academy of Western Painters; Société Internationale des Beaux Arts et Lettres, Paris; California Printmakers; Painters of the West.

Exhibited: Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, MO, 1904; Ruskin Art Club, Los Angeles, 1905; Steckel Galleries, Los Angeles, 1906; Alaska-Yukon Exposition, Seattle, WA, 1909; Los Angeles Painters Club, 1909; Helgesen Gallery, San Francisco, 1910; Société des Artistes Français, Paris, France, 1912, 1920; Salmagundi Club, New York, 1914; Versailles, France, 1914; California Art Club, 1915; Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1915; Arizona State Fair, 1916; Société des Artistes Francais, Paris, France, 1920; Pacific Southwest Exposition, 1928.

Works held: Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris; California State Library, Sacramento; de Young Museum, San Francisco; Gothenburg Ethological Museum, Sweden; Irvine Museum; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Lowie Museum, University of California, Berkeley; Mills College, Oakland; National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Oakland Museum; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum, Washington.