Artist Profile

Carl Oscar Borg


Carl Oscar Borg was born in Dals-Grinstad, Sweden, in 1879. Mainly a self-taught artist, Borg’s plein-air landscape paintings and portraits of Native Americans of the Southwest, produced in various mediums including oil, watercolor, etchings, and woodblock prints, earned him credibility as an artist and painter early in his career. Borg is one of many artists of the time credited for recording California and the American West at the turn of the century.

Around 1900, after immigrating to England at the age of twenty, Borg began his painting career as an assistant to George Johansen, who owned a company that specialized in portraits, scenery, and marine paintings. In 1902, Borg immigrated to the United States and settled in Norfolk, Virginia, where he worked as a house and furniture painter, but he soon joined the crew aboard the USS Arizonan bound for San Francisco, California. Borg then traveled south to Los Angeles where he eventually integrated himself with the local art community, becoming friends with William Wendt, the well-respected landscape painter who is credited with teaching Borg many useful painting techniques. Borg also met Charles Lummis, journalist and editor of the magazine Land of Sunshine, first published in 1894, and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, mother of newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst.

Sponsored by Hearst, Borg spent several years studying old master paintings in Europe. Upon his return to California in 1916, again with Hearst’s support and commission of his works, Borg would spend the next fifteen years photographing and painting Native Americans, Native American religious ceremonies, and cowboy subjects throughout the Southwest, preserving this part of America’s heritage in his imagery.

Borg often visited the art colony in Laguna Beach and joined the Laguna Beach Art Association. He often painted the landscapes and seascapes of the surrounding area, as seen in the painting Golden Shores, Laguna Beach. In 1928, he returned to his native Sweden, where he was forced to remain until the end of World War II. While back in Sweden, he successfully painted scenes of his homeland and exhibited works from his series of the American Southwest, which received much praise. After the war ended, Borg returned to Santa Barbara, California, where he lived until his death in 1947.



Works in Our Collection

Carl Oscar Borg
Golden Shores, Laguna Beach
Oil on panel, c. 1920
18 x 32 1/2 inches
Gift of the Carl S. Dentzel Estate


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