Today I celebrate an artist that has been my favorite since I was little. Alien is one of the first movies I remember watching…yes it’s strange, but I grew up with a single father that loved science fiction/fantasy and action movies. I also remember his set design and art from David Lynch’s Dune, another one of my favorites. As I got older (throughout high school) I continued to be in awe of his paintings, sculptures and conceptual designs. I present to you…H.R. Giger!
Biography from wikipedia.
Hans Rudolf “Ruedi” Giger (born 5 February 1940) is a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor, and set designer. He was part of the special effects team that won an Academy Award for Best Achievement for Visual Effects for their design work on the film Alien. He was named to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013.
Giger was born in 1940 in Chur, capital city of Graubünden, the largest and
easternmost Swiss canton. His father, a chemist, viewed art as a “breadless profession” and strongly encouraged him to enter pharmaceutics, Giger recalls. Yet he moved in 1962 to Zürich, where he studied Architecture and industrial design at the School of Applied Arts until 1970. Giger had a relationship with Swiss actress Li Tobler until she committed suicide in 1975. He married Mia Bonzanigo in 1979; they separated a year and a half later.
Giger’s style and thematic execution have been influential. His design for the
Alien was inspired by his painting Necronom IV and earned him an Oscar in 1980. His books of paintings, particularly Necronomicon and Necronomicon II (1985) and the frequent appearance of his art in Omnimagazine continued his rise to international prominence. Giger is also well known for artwork on several music recording albums.
In 1998 Giger acquired the Château St. Germain in Gruyères, Switzerland, and it now houses the H. R. Giger Museum, a permanent repository of his work.
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, he described as “biomechanics”. 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.
There are evidences that Giger was very influenced by the works of the American horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, such as in his first compendium of images Necronomicon, which is a clear reference to Lovecraft’s Necronomicon.
“This Academy Award-winning artist claims to be influenced by Lovecraft, and yet his number of explicitly Lovecraftian pieces of art are very few.”
In the 1960s and 1970s, Giger directed a number of films, including Swiss Made (1968), Tagtraum(1973), Giger’s Necronomicon (1975) and Giger’s Alien (1979).
Giger has created furniture designs, particularly the Harkonnen Capo Chair for a movie of the novel Dune that was to be directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Many years later, David Lynch directed the film, using only rough concepts by Giger. Giger had wished to work with Lynch, as he states in one of his books that Lynch’s film Eraserhead was closer than even Giger’s own films to realizing his vision.
Giger is often referred to in pop culture, especially in science fiction and
cyberpunk. William Gibson (who wrote an early script for Alien 3) seems particularly fascinated: a minor character in Virtual Light, Lowell, is described as having New York XXIV tattooed across his back, and in Idoru a secondary character, Yamazaki, describes the buildings of nanotech Japan as Giger-esque.
Read this awesome article from wired.com. Here’s a tiny excerpt to tease you to do so.
His childhood home’s cellar became, as Giger described, “a monstrous labyrinth, where all kinds of dangers lay in wait for me.” Similarly, his early fear of worms and snakes were sublimated by skeletal sculptures of wire, plaster and cardboard.
As I saw his name get closer on my handy excel spreadsheet, I got excited, but also very intimidated and nervous. Thoughts and
huge doubts started plaguing my brain. “I can’t POSSIBLY paint a Giger-esque painting!” But I did and I am VERY excited about how it turned out. I have almost no photos of the progress of this particular art piece because I was so nervous as I was painting that I didn’t even think of taking pictures. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of painting details on the alien that I thought of taking photos.
At first I was going to do a Giger-esque self-portrait of myself wearing the safety-pin glasses from the Magma album, Attahk. Maybe have weird baby aliens emerging from my body or have them breaking out of pods behind me…you know, the usual. Then I kept staring at the alien pieces that he did. I was really intimidated by all the bio-mechanical machines so I decided to to an alien-esque background wash on the painting first and then see what emerged from my brain.
I think I captured his essence pretty well. I don’t think I’m going to ever be as talented as him, but I am happy and relieved to present my piece.