H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor who became internationally renowned in the 1970s for the nightmarish visions he helped bring to life in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror masterpiece Alien, has died at the age of 74.
The cause of death was injuries Giger sustained in a fall on some stairs at his home in Zurich, Switzerland. He succumbed to his injuries in a hospital yesterday, as told by Sandra Mivelaz, administrator of the H.R. Giger museum in Gruyeres, western Switzerland, to the The Associated Press.
A master of disturbing artistic visions that fused Gothic horror, sexuality, and extraterrestrial machinery in a way that no one could ever imitate, Giger’s work first caught the attention of filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, who hired him to provide design work for his eventually-shelved adaptation of Dune.
On the production, Giger met screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, who had been retained by Jodorowsky to create the visual effects of Dune, and his art influenced O’Bannon when he set about writing the initial draft of what would later become Alien. O’Bannon gave Ridley Scott a copy of Giger’s 1977 book Necronomicon during pre-production and the artist was invited to join the film’s special effects department and design the iconic monster that has made an impressionable child (as well as a few adults) too frightened to sleep without the lights on. The year after Alien became a critical and commercial smash, Giger and four other members of the film’s effects team were presented with the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Giger’s designs for Alien were used for every entry in the franchise, including the 2012 Scott-directed prequel Prometheus.
Giger continued to work sporadically in genre cinema in the years that followed, putting his dark imagination to effective use on films such as Poltergeist II: The Other Side, AlienÂ³, Species, and Killer Condom. His poster design for the 1985 exploitation flick Future-Kill was one of its biggest selling points, while his radical redesign of the Batmobile for 1995’s Batman Forever went unused. Giger also created unique album cover art for musical acts like Magma, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Celtic Frost, Danzig, Dead Kennedys, and Deborah Harry.
Outside of his groundbreaking work in the worlds of art and film, one of Giger’s most enduring legacies is the Giger Bars located throughout Switzerland he helped design. Recently he was interviewed for Frank Pavich’s documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune about the role he played in what has long been considered the greatest film never made. His original works continue to fetch handsome fees from all over the world and the visions he created during his time on this planet will influence artists from every walk of life for generations to come.