Elfie Semotan

Haltung und Pose

Elfie Semotan, self-portrait, New York, 2000
Elfie Semotan, Ohne Titel, Jewelry for Vogue Gioiello, New York, 2002
Elfie Semotan, Untitled (Floor Dance), New York, 1998
Elfie Semotan, Untitled, (Inspired by Diane Arbus) Americana, Wien,
2018

On the occasion of her 80th birthday, KUNST HAUS WIEN pays tribute to the great Austrian photographer Elfie Semotan with an extensive retrospective.

"Elfie Semotan is certainly the most internationally renowned Austrian photographer. The retrospective Haltung und Pose (Attitude and Pose) shows her comprehensive artistic oeuvre of the last 60 years, from fashion and advertising photography to her touching landscape photographs and still lifes." - Bettina Leidl, Director KUNST HAUS WIEN

The presentation of the 160 works makes it possible to experience Semotan's photographic cosmos as a large interlocking mesh of specific approaches to the medium of photography. 

"I am very happy about this large museum exhibition and also proud, as the KUNST HAUS WIEN is the place in Vienna that continuously deals with artistic photography. The exhibition composition will be extravagant, my work will not be presented chronologically but from a new intuitive and innovative point of view." - Elfie Semotan, artist

Art and art history often serve Semotan as a source of inspiration. Her closeness to the visual arts was also reinforced by her marriages to the artists Kurt Kocherscheidt and Martin Kippenberger. Adaptations and homages to works of art and artists can be found in several of her series, such as Inspired by Lucian Freud (1997), Pre-Raphaelites (2005) and in works that refer to iconic images by such famous photographers as John Coplans, Diane Arbus, Irving Penn or Robert Frank.

Semotan's passion for art is also reflected in the many portraits of artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Raymond Pettibon, Franz West, Marina Abramovic' and Bruno Gironcoli, among many others, of whom Semotan creates haunting portraits. The relaxed gaze of the sitters is a consistent characteristic in her portraits. In the photographs taken in the artists' studios, it is the photographer's attentive gaze on the space itself - not only on the person and the objects - that makes them special. 

For Semotan, nature is always a place of retreat and creativity. Her origins and her house in rural southern Burgenland, which she inhabits alongside domiciles in Vienna and New York, play an important role in this. Whether photographed analogue or digitally, in black and white or in colour, Semotan has captured moments of the poetic in her landscape photographs.

Elfie Semotan, born in Wels in 1941, attended the Vienna Fashion School in Hetzendorf and went to Paris at the age of 20. There she worked as a mannequin for a few years and gained insight into the world of fashion and photography. She became a master at combining creativity and commerciality. Elfie Semotan successfully and publicly shaped the Austrian fashion and advertising scene. In the 1990s she became internationally known for her collaboration with Helmut Lang. Subsequently, she produced fashion series for major labels and portraits of models such as Naomi Campbell and Cordula Reyer for international magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Esquire, Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar and The New Yorker. Elfie Semotan lives in Vienna, New York and Jennersdorf/Burgenland.

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