H. R. Giger,the Oscar winning Neo-Surrealist artist who inspired and designed the sets and props for Ridley Scott’s Alien film series, has died aged 74. A spokesperson at the Giger museum in Gruyere confirmed the artist’s passing after injuries sustained when he fell down stairs at his home in Zurich.
Giger was best remembered for his ‘Xenomorph’ alien in Scott’s sci-fi classic, which he won an Oscar for in 1980. A student of architecture and industrial design in Zurich. He got his start with small ink drawings before progressing to oil paintings. Giger was known for creating realistically detailed, monochrome, airbrushed dreamscapes featuring humans and machines melded together.
His most distinctive stylistic innovation is that of a representation of human bodies and machines in a cold, interconnected relationship, he described as “biomechanical”. His paintings often display fetishistic sexual imagery. His main influences were painters Ernst Fuchs and Salvador Dalí. He met Salvador Dalí, to whom he was introduced by painter Robert Venosa. He was also a personal friend of Timothy Leary. Giger suffers from night terrors and his paintings are all to some extent inspired by his experiences with that particular sleep disorder. He studied interior and industrial design at the School of Commercial Art in Zurich (from 1962 to 1965) and made his first paintings as a means of art therapy.
Photo: H.R. Giger In his Zurich Studio 1985 by Kedar Misani Creative Commons
In 2007, Giger and his work were subjects of a 19-minute documentary, H.R. Giger’s Sanctuary, which toured internationally and was released on DVD in May 2008.