Born in Moscow, Val Telberg lived in China, Japan, and Korea during his youth. He studied painting at the Art Student’s League, New York, in 1942, where he was exposed to the surrealism movement and experimental filmmaking. To support his painting, Telberg traveled from Florida to Massachusettes, printing photographs of nightclub patrons and working at photographic concession stands where people posed with cutouts of celebrities. In 1945, he returned to New York and produced narrative, surrealist photographs using sandwiched, bleached or burned negatives and double exposure within the camera. His later work evolved to large scale, scroll-like multiple images.
Around that time, Mr. Telberg began experimenting with the multiple-image photographic technique for which he became known. His photomontages, which sometimes were mural-size, consisted of layered images of figures in motion and had a dreamlike weightlessness associated with Surrealism. He had his first major show at the Brooklyn Museum in 1948. In the mid-1950’s he collaborated with Nin, creating images for the 1958 edition of her book “The House of Incest.”
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.