Goodbye master of darkness: 'Alien' artist H.R. Giger dies at 74

  • Arts
  • Thursday, 15 May 2014

Swiss surrealist artist H.R. Giger who designed the monster and revolutionary sci-fi sets for the film Alien has passed away at age 74.

Giger, who was born Hans Rudolf in the eastern Swiss town of Chur in 1940, died on May 12 in Zurich from injuries he obtained after suffering a fall, an employee of the H.R. Giger Museum said, confirming reports in Swiss media.

Famous for creating the otherworldly creature in Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror film Alien, Giger was awarded an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects in 1980.

Master of darkness: A 2012 photo of the late H.R. Giger seen with a detail of Necronom IV, the 1976 painting that served as inspiration for the terrifiying xenomorph monster in Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror film Alien. Below is a younger Giger working on one of his iconic paintings with an airbrush.

The son of a chemist, he studied architecture and industrial design in Zurich, and first experimented with ink drawing and polyester works before moving to large freehand airbrush works showcasing nightmarish dreamscapes.

His work explored the relationship between the human body and the machine, and he created surrealist images of humans fused with industrial parts, a style he described as “biomechanical”.

One example of this was his 1973 record cover design for Brain Salad Surgery by English rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which depicted a human skull encased in a machine. 

“My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy. A good many people think as I do. If they like my work they are creative or they are crazy,” Giger said in a 1979 interview with Starlog magazine.

In 1975, Giger endured personal tragedy when his Swiss actress girlfriend Li Tobler, who served as a model in several of his works, committed suicide. He married Mia Bonzanigo in 1982 but the couple later divorced.

Giger was also known for his many sculptures, paintings and furniture. Many of these works are on display at his own museum in a medieval castle in Gruyeres, central Switzerland, which is run by his second wife Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger.

The museum, which opened in 1998 also houses Giger’s private art collection, including works by Salvador Dali. Across from the museum is the Giger Bar  – Reuters

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