Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Godspeed H.R. Giger

Painter and sculptor H.R. Giger, who designed the title creature for the classic Alien (1979), died on 12 May 2014 at the age of 74. The cause was injuries he suffered from a fall.

H. R. Giger was born on 5 February 1940 in Chur, Graubünden, Switzerland. He attended the School of Applied Arts in Zurich where he studied architecture and industrial design. Following graduation Mr. Giger worked for Andreas Christen designing furniture. He also directed the short "High and Heimkiller" (1967) and the documentary feature Swiss Made (1968). He took up art full time in 1968.

In 1973 he directed the documentary short Tagtraum. In 1977 he published his first book of paintings, H.R. Giger's Necronomicon. He was commissioned by director Alexandro Jodorowsky as a designer for a planned adaptation of the novel Dune, but the project fell through. It was after director Ridley Scott saw a copy of H.R. Giger's Necronomicon that he convinced 20 Century Fox to hire the artist as a designer on Alien. He later served as a designer on the films Species (1995) and Alien³ (1992).

In all H. R. Giger published 20 books of his artwork. He also designed many album covers over the years, starting with the cover for Walpurgis by The Shiver in 1969. Among the album covers he designed were Brain Salad Surgery for Emerson Lake & Palmer, Koo Koo for Debbie Harry, Frankesnchrist for The Dead Kennedys, How the Gods Kill for Danzig.

In 1998 H. R. Giger bought the Château St. Germain in Gruyères, Switzerland and opened a museum there. It not only contains Mr. Giger's artwork, but also that of Salvador Dali and other surrealists.

There can be no doubt that H.R. Giger had a singular talent, one that was particularly suited to the late 20th Century. His art often portrayed downright nightmarish machinery, often meshing together biology and technology. If his work for Alien had such an impact, it is perhaps because Mr. Giger's work looked alien, and yet at the same time seemed somehow familiar. Perhaps no artist captured the darker recesses of the 20th Century imagination like H.R. Giger did. 

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