H. R. Giger  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hans Ruedi Giger (born at Chur, Grisons, 5 February 1940 – 12 May 2014) was an Academy Award-winning Swiss painter, sculptor, and set designer best known for his design work on the film Alien. Giger's artwork for the Dead Kennedys' album Frankenchrist, Landscape XX, was at the center of an obscenity lawsuit against the Dead Kennedys. His work, which is nicknamed the 'biomechanical' style, shows similarities with the 17th century auricular style prominent in such works as Auricular Cartouche with Figures within a Strapwork Frame.



Giger's Alien design, inspired by his painting Necronom IV, earned him an Oscar in 1980. His third published book of paintings, titled Necronomicon (followed by Necronomicon II in 1985), continued his rise to international prominence, as did the frequent appearance of his art in the magazine Omni. Giger is also well known for artwork on a number of popular records.


Giger got his start with small ink drawings before progressing to oil paintings. For most of his career, Giger has worked predominantly in airbrush, creating monochromatic canvasses depicting surreal, nightmarish dreamscapes. However, he has now largely abandoned large airbrush works in favor of works with pastels, markers or ink.

His most distinctive stylistic innovation is that of a representation of human bodies and machines in a cold, interconnected relationship, 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.

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.

Other works

Giger has created furniture designs, particularly the Harkonnen Capo Chair for an unproduced movie version of the novel Dune that was originally slated to be directed by Alejandro Jodorowski. Many years later, David Lynch directed the film, using only extremely limited rough ideas from Giger and Jodorowski. Giger had wished to work with Lynch, as he had said that Lynch's film Eraserhead was the closest thing to portraying Giger's art in film (even including the films that Giger himself had worked on), as cited in one of Giger's Necronomicon books.

Giger has applied his biomechanical style to interior design, and several "Giger Bars" sprang up in Tokyo, New York, and his native Switzerland, although most of the bars have since closed. One such example was The Limelight in Manhattan, circa 1993 -- at the time, its bars featured faux embryos in jars, floating in a backlit pinkish fluid. His art has greatly influenced tattooists and fetishists worldwide. Ibanez guitars has released an H.R. Giger signature series; the Ibanez ICHRG2, an Ibanez Iceman, features the work "NY City VI", and the Ibanez RGTHRG1 has the work "NY City XIX" printed on it.

Giger also designed an elaborate microphone stand for Jonathan Davis, lead singer of the band Korn.

Pop culture

Giger is often referenced in pop culture and especially in works of the science fiction and cyberpunk genres. Novelist William Gibson (who wrote an early script for Alien³) seems particularly fascinated, presenting in Virtual Light a minor character, Lowell, with New York XXIV tattooed across his back and a secondary character, Yamazaki in Idoru specifically describes the buildings of nanotech Japan as Giger-esque.


Work for recording artists

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "H. R. Giger" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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