H.R. Giger, 74: Surrealist artist known for his “Alien”

Hans Rudolf “Ruedi” Giger, born February 5, 1940 and better known as H.R. Giger, was a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor, and set designer. He passed away on Mar. 12, 2014 from injuries suffered when he fell down the stairs in his home.

Known worldwide by fans of alternative and surreal art and having something of a cult following, Giger was known for his unsettling and unique style of biomechanical science fiction designs. He is best known in the mainstream for having designed the horrific titular creature of the 1979 film Alien, as well as its sequels. The alien was based on the one featured in his 1976 painting Necronom IV, and its look upset 20th Century Fox so much that they initially turned down the design, feeling it might be too disturbing to audiences. However, Giger’s work was eventually used, and has strongly influenced many science fiction and horror artists since.

Giger spent the early part of his career doing small ink drawings, before progressing to oil paintings and sculptures. Giger’s pieces are known for the nightmarish dreamscapes they depict, and were largely inspired by night terrors he endured due to a sleep disorder. His signature style was the cold melding of human and mechanical anatomy, often depicted in monochrome, with there being a certain irony in the juxtaposition of the two elements that was not lost on him.

Giger was inspired by figures including fantasy-horror author H.P. Lovecraft, director Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí.

Giger’s other notable work includes a design for the Batmobile intended for use in the film Batman Forever (though the design was later scrapped); designs used in the films Poltergeist II, Species, Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis, and Prometheus; and designs used for album covers by metal bands including Celtic Frost and Carcass, and punk artists including Danzig.

Giger also applied his biomechanical imagery to interior design, and two “Giger bars” based on such looks were created in Switzerland, where they remain today as tourist and artist attractions. A third Giger bar is currently planned for the U.S., likely for New York or New Orleans.

There is currently a museum dedicated to him and his works, called the H.R. Giger Museum, in Gruyeres, Switzerland. There is also currently an H.R. Giger Exhibition taking place in Leipzig, Germany from Mar. 13 through June 13 this year.

Last year, Giger was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle.

Photo: Giger with two of his sculptures and one of his more well-known paintings, “Necronom IV,” which depicts the “Xenomorph” made famous in the “Alien” films. Comicbookmovie



Blake Skylar
Blake Skylar

Blake is a writer and production manager, responsible for the daily assembly of the People's World home page. He has earned awards from the IWPA and ILCA, and his articles have appeared in publications such as Workday Minnesota, EcoWatch, and Earth First News. He has covered issues including the BP oil spill in New Orleans and the 2015 U.N. Climate Conference in Paris.

He lives in Pennsylvania with his girlfriend and their cats. He enjoys wine, books, music, and nature. In his spare time, he reviews music, creates artwork, and is working on several books and digital comics.