Born in Chur, Switzerland, in 1940, Swiss artist H.R. Giger is best remembered for his award-winning work on the movies Alien, Poltergeist II, and Prometheus. The “biomechanical” melding of man and machine that so often characterized his paintings made his work perfect for science fiction and horror, thus winning him many commissions. An artist, sculptor, architect, and designer, H.R. Giger has been hailed as the modern-day Hieronymus Bosch by his contemporaries, especially for the erotic and demonic elements in his work. To know more about Giger, read on:
1. Giger started out as an interior designer.
- He studied industrial design and architecture at the School of Applied Arts in Zurich, Switzerland. During this period, however, he produced his first oil paintings and ink drawings and even had his first solo exhibition.
- Soon after Switzerland’s first poster publishing company released print editions of Giger’s art worldwide, he started working solely as an artist with some forays into film.
2. Although Giger worked mostly in art and film after 1969, he also did some architectural projects.
- In 1992, he created the world’s first Giger bar, the interior of which is full of furniture reflective of his biomechanical aesthetic.
- Giger has disowned the Giger bar in Tokyo, which was built on his preliminary sketches instead of his final ideas due to building code restrictions.
- There are only two authentic Giger bars left in the world, both located in Switzerland. They are in Gruyeres and Giger’s hometown of Chur.
3. He lived a Bohemian lifestyle in his youth.
- Giger and his lover, actress Li Tobler, often lived in the homes of friends or in the squalor of condemned buildings.
- Giger and Tobler had a very deep, though open relationship. They would both see other people for the duration of their relationship.
4. Of all of Giger’s wives and lovers, Tobler affected him the most profoundly.
- Tobler’s face is the model for many of the female faces in Giger’s early works. But it is most recognizable in the famous paintings Li I and Li II, both painted in 1974. Allegedly, Tobler was so shocked to see her own face in Li I that she proceeded to tear the painting. Giger reconstructed it later.
- After Tobler’s suicide in 1975, Giger was later accused negatively influencing Tobler with the dark nature of his art.
5. Giger’s most famous book is the Necronomicon, published in 1977.
- Not to be confused with the Necronomicon of H.P. Lovecraft, who heavily influenced Giger’s work, the book is a compilation of Giger’s artwork.
- This book won Giger a chance to work with Ridley Scott, the director of the movie Alien. Scott had a copy of the book during pre-production and decided to hire Giger to do the film’s artwork and conceptual designs. Giger went on to win an Oscar Award for his work on the film.
6. In the mid-1990s, Giger started the H.R. Giger Museum.
- This museum is located in a medieval castle in Switzerland.
- The museum houses Giger’s personal art collection, among his own works. This collection includes works by artists and contemporaries who have influenced his own style, such as Salvador Dali, Dado, Ernest Fuchs, and Claude Sandoz.
Giger’s death due to complications from a fall in 2014 shook the science fiction community and the art world alike. He will forever be remembered as a visionary, a master of biomechanical horrors.
Do H.R. Giger’s designs appeal to you? Which one is your favorite?
To learn more about other inspiring artists and designers, check out their interesting facts here.