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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Thomas Limborg

Dates:  1894, 27 May - 1992, 30 April
Born:  Norway, Oslo
Died:  US, OR, Seattle

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Thomas Limborg
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Thomas Limborg made pictorial photographs, in both black and white and color, from the 1930s through the 1950s. Based in the Twin Cities, he specialized in character studies, often posing himself for the pictures. He was born on May 27, 1894, in Oslo, Norway, and moved to the United States at age seventeen. After studying art here and abroad, he won awards for his drawings and paintings. In Minneapolis, he worked as a printer and sign painter for outdoor advertising companies from about 1940 to the mid-1950s.
In the mid-1920s, Limborg picked up photography as a hobby, eventually establishing a prosperous home-portrait business in Minneapolis. He began sending his creative pictures to the Minneapolis Salon of Photography in 1934, but did not take up serious exhibiting until about 1947. He was a print judge for the salon in 1952 and 1953, and exhibited color slides in 1952, 1953, and 1957, as a member of the Minneapolis Color Photo Club. His most prolific print season was 1949-50, when nearly fifty of his photographs were accepted at twenty-two salons, among them those in Houston, Montreal, New York, Rochester, and St. Louis. Around this time, he also had solo shows in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Boston, and New Zealand.
Limborg was active in local and national photographic organizations. He joined camera clubs in the Twin Cities, where he judged prints and gave demonstrations, and in 1953 he served on the jury of the Minneapolis salon. In 1950, he received a trophy from the Photographic Society of America for outstanding color work. Four years later, he spoke at the societyís national convention and shortly thereafter received fellowship status (FPSA) in the organization.
Limborg made primarily figure studies of models transformed by makeup and homespun costumes. He even let his own hair and whiskers grow long so he could photograph himself as a sailor, hillbilly, and tattoo artist. Using paper negatives and William Mortensenís abrasion-tone process, which allowed extensive handwork of the image, Limborg produced highly crafted pictorial images. Reproductions of his work appeared in Camera,Popular Photography, and thePSA Journal in the late 1940s and early 1950s. His Water Nymph, showing a nude woman from behind with an urn on her shoulder, graced the cover of the 1950 publication Pictorial Figure Photography and was reproduced in American Photography (February 1950) and the catalog for the 1951 Rochester International Salon of Photography.
In 1959, Limborg moved from Minnesota to the Northwest, where he stopped making photographs. He supported himself by designing and painting billboards, and died on April 30, 1992, in Seattle. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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