Illustrated Chronology

1941

Born on July 25th, 1941 in Wels, Upper Austria.

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Elfie Semotan with her family, Haag am Hausruch, Austria, 1946

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Elfie Semotan in Mariazell, Austria, 1951

1961 – 1971

Due to limited prospects in the fashion industry in Vienna, Semotan moves to Paris where she works as a fashion model and develops an interest in photography. Her passion for photography grows upon meeting Canadian/Austrian photographer John Cook, with whom she is romantically involved until 1971. During her time in Paris, Semotan also meets French photographer Sarah Moon, and the two become close friends.

1971

Semotan moves back to Vienna due to a sudden change in tax regulation in France that dramatically affects those working as models. Accompanied by John Cook, the pair collaborates on two films, "Ich schaff’s einfach nimmer zusamment" and "Portrait of a Model". The production of Portrait of a Model is not fully realized due to the couple’s separation. It is during this period that Semotan’s career as a photographer begins to take shape.

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Elfie Semotan modelling for Harper’s Bazaar, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, c. 1968

1982

Gives birth to her second son, August.

1985

Works with various international magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, and many more. Her photographic work focuses on portraiture, although she also creates travel documentaries and portraits of artists.

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Elfie Semotan with her sons Ivo and August, Loano, Italy, 1984

1995

Begins to work with Walter Schupfer Management in New York City, an international creative agency for photographers.

1996

Semotan marries German artist Martin Kippenberger. The couple collaborates on multiple projects, including the notable photographic series The Raft of the Medusa and Wegwerffotos. She also photographs his studio and work.

1997

Shortly after her marriage with Kippenberger, he falls ill and passes away suddenly.

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Elfie Semotan and Martin Kippenberger, Vienna, Austria, 1996

2011

Semotan receives the Austrian Goldene Ehrenzeichen für Wissenschaft und Kunst.

2012

A unique stamp “Elfie Semotan” is issued by the Austrian Post Office.

2013

Semotan is invited to create the award for the Austrian Film Festival.

2016

Semotan publishes her memoire: Eine Andere Art Von Schönheit, edited by Ute Woltron. Vienna: Brandstätter, 2016.

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Self Portrait, New York, c. 2008

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Elfie Semotan, her step-mother, father and sister, Vorchdorft, Austria, 1951

1960

Elfie completes her studies at the Fashion School in Hetzendorf, Vienna, Austria.

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Elfie Semotan in Paris, France, 1966 © John Cook

1973

Meets and marries the Austrian artist, Kurt Kocherscheidt.

1974

Gives birth to her first son, Ivo.

Along with Kocherscheidt, buys a farm house in Grieselstein near Jennersdorf in the southern part of Burgenland, Austria. This location becomes an important place for Semotan, informing her approach and connection to nature.

1976

Works in diverse photography and film advertising campaigns which shape the Austrian fashion and commercial scene. Her work during this time with Palmers, an Austrian underwear label, and Römerquelle, an Austrian water brand, are recognized as her most well-known early work.

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Advertising Campaign Römerquelle, Römerquelle belebt die Sinne (Fasan), 1983

1990s

During this period Semotan produces numerous fashion spreads for major labels with models such as Naomi Campbell and Cordula Reyer. She also closely collaborates with fashion designer Helmut Lang throughout the decade. 

1992

Following the death of her husband Kurt Kocherscheidt, Semotan moves to New York City in order to further her work in commercial and fashion photography. During this time, she creates work for magazines such as Interview, Esquire, Jane Magazine, Self Service, High Fashion Japan, Allure, The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, and i-D Magazine.

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Untitled (Backstage Helmut Lang), c. 1992

1999

Semotan receives the Preis der Stadt Wien für Angewandte Kunst.

2003

Semotan begins a guest professorship at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

2004

Semotan receives the Goldene Verdienstzeichen der Stadt Wien.

2010

In conjunction with art critic and curator Roberto Ohr, Semotan becomes a guest professor at the International Summer Academy in Salzburg.

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Self Portrait, New York, 2000

2019

The documentary film portrait Elfie Semotan, Photography directed by Joerg Burger is released in theaters.

The artist now lives and works in Vienna, Austria; New York, NY; and Jennersdorf, Austria.