“Alien” Artist, Surrealist H.R. Giger, Dies at Aged 74

Swiss surrealist artist H.R. Giger who designed the monster and revolutionary sci-fi sets for the film Alien has died, his museum said on Tuesday. He was 74.

Giger, who was born Hans Rudolf in the eastern Swiss town of Chur in 1940, died on Monday 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 horror film Alien, Giger was awarded an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects in 1980.

The son of a chemist, he studied architecture and industrial design in Zurich, and first experimented with ink drawing and polyester works before moving onto 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’s 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 an 1979 interview with Starlog magazine.

In 1975, Giger endured tragedy when his partner Swiss actress and 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 sculptures, paintings and furniture and 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.

Giger was featured in Airbrush Action magazine and was a recipient of the Vargas Award.  Cliff Stiegiltz, Airbrush Action’s publisher, visited the legendary artist at his home in 1988.  “Giger actually picked me up at the airport, and we toured Zurich and his amazing home, and had lunch where I sat under a Picasso Giger6LOGiger2LOGiger4LOGiger5LOGiger7LOGiger8LOpainting,” Stieglitz recalls. “I remember his kitchen had a bath and a life-size replica of the now classic alien creature.  The dining room walls were covered with Giger murals; absolutely gorgeous in person. And his Oscar award was clearly on display.  The chairs, tables, and even the outside pavers were custom-made with his elaborate and macabre concepts. At one point he invited me to see his backyard garden, which seemed like something you’d see on the Adams Family. Giger was a great host, even though he nodded off a couple times at lunch.  It was a truly memorable experience.”

(Reporting by Caroline Copley Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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