Portraits of Artists
Elfie Semotan, who was born in Wels in 1941, worked as a model before she started her career as photographer at the end of the 1960s. She became famous for her spectacular photo series from the world of fashion. She worked with Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer for magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Die Zeit etc. Large fashion labels are often associated with the aesthetics of their pictorial language for many years. An excellent example for this is the Austrian lingerie brand Palmers, for which Elfie Semotan photographed a famous advertising campaign that created a scandal in Austria at the time of its publication. Her cooperation with fashion designer
Helmut Lang steered her career in an entirely new direction that becomes evident in her portrait photographs. Semotan’s models are situated between posing and spontaneity, static attitude and fleeting lightness, role playing and self-exposure, even if her models are fellow artists, friends and colleagues, her former husband Kurt Kocherscheidt, with whom she was
married from 1973 to 1992 or Martin Kippenberger, with whom she lived from 1993 to 1997.
Her image compositions, which seem very glamorous at first glance, turn out to be cold, constructed, brittle below the glossy facade and steering towards uncertainty at closer inspection. The persons she captures are moulded like sculptures from an amorphous background in the cold studio light, emphasizing contours and volumes. She often puts artists into context
with their Tmuvre, casually standing or sitting there as if by accident, taking their small son by the hand or holding a dog in their arms. Her portraits of artists do not claim to be valid representations. They are a mixture of momentary situation and deliberate orchestration.
The exhibition shows 60 portraits of Austrian and international artists. Elfie Semotan depicts the persons she photographs - many of them close friends and acquaintances from her own personal environment – in a glamorous pose in their everyday surroundings, like motifs from an advertising context. The selection of works is complemented by some calm studio photographs resembling still lifes.