R.I.P. – Artist H.R. Giger Dies At 74 – The World Has Lost A Brilliant Talent

13 May


Iconic artist H.R. Giger, the surrealist responsible for some of the scariest imagery in horror history and the man who was the personal architect and set designer for some of my most terrifying and entertaining nightmares, has died at the age of 74.

Giger was born in the Swiss town of Chur, Graubünden in 1940. He began working on his art with India ink and airbrushing, and began creating brilliantly surreal and nightmarish images of fantastical monsters that often evoked a primal revulsion in a wonderfully powerful way.

Giger depicted, sometimes subtly, sometimes overly, highly sexual and sexually violent imagery into his creature design and landscapes. By incorporating phallic and vaginal imagery, Giger was able to cut into his audience’s psyche and dredge up fear and emotional confusion from within.

Giger’s work became a major part of the public consciousness in 1979 when the sci-fi horror film Alien exploded into theaters. Giger’s work, specifically the painting Necronom IV, was the basis for the film’s unprecedentedly-horrifying eponymous alien, while his other works, and the full power of his dark, twisted imagination, were responsible for creating the rest of the planet that creature was discovered on.

'Necronom IV' by H.R. Giger (1976)

‘Necronom IV’ by H.R. Giger (1976)

Giger’s involvement with Alien made sense, given both the film’s and Giger’s use of sexual violence to instill fear. The face-hugger alien that impregnated John Hurt, the ‘spacy jokey’ chair (seen in this article’s banner photo), all of it sprung forth from his imagination, and ended up earning him an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

However, Giger’s influence in pop-culture and media extend far beyond Alien and the Alien franchise. His imagery, which he often referred to as Biomechanical, was inspired by the works of surrealist artists like Salvador Dali and the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. 

However, Giger himself inspired generations of filmmakers, writers, artists and creators whose imaginations were influenced by his work. 

Giger made art until his final days and for many films. He created a score of memorable album covers for recording artists such as Magma, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Danzig, just to name a few, and worked on the design for several scary videogames including Dark Seed and it’s sequel.

A screenshot from the 1992 point-and-click horror game 'Dark Seed', which is based on the art of H.R. Giger.

A screenshot from the 1992 point-and-click horror game ‘Dark Seed’, which is based on the art of H.R. Giger.

I just recently saw H.R. Giger in the amazing documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. I have always loved his work, and the world is a less-amazing place without him creating his art. I have several of his bound collections of paintings and I have a number of his posters hanging on my wall. He deeply influenced my writing and my creations and he will be deeply missed.

Giger passed away in a Zurich hospital after succumbing to injuries suffered during a fall on May 12.


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