H. R. Giger

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

H. R. Giger
HR Giger 2012.jpg
Giger in 2012
Birth nameHans Rudolf Giger
Born(1940-02-05) 5 February 1940 (age 73)
Chur, Graubünden, Switzerland
Fieldpainting, sculpting, set design, movie directing
MovementScience fiction, fantasy, occult, macabre
Jump to: navigation, search
H. R. Giger
HR Giger 2012.jpg
Giger in 2012
Birth nameHans Rudolf Giger
Born(1940-02-05) 5 February 1940 (age 73)
Chur, Graubünden, Switzerland
Fieldpainting, sculpting, set design, movie directing
MovementScience fiction, fantasy, occult, macabre

Hans Rudolf "Ruedi" Giger (/ˈɡɡər/; 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.[1][2] He was named to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013.[3][4]

Life and career[edit]

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.[5] 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 Omni magazine continued his rise to international prominence.[5] 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.[6]


Birth Machine sculpture in Gruyères

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.[5]

His most distinctive stylistic innovation is that of a representation of human bodies and machines in a cold, interconnected relationship, he described as "biomechanical". His paintings often display fetishistic sexual imagery[clarification needed][citation needed]. 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.[5]

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.[7]


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." [8]

Other works[edit]

Entrance to Giger Bar in Chur.
Ibanez H. R. Giger signature bass and guitars

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,[9] 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.[5]

Giger has applied his biomechanical style to interior design. One "Giger Bar" sprang up in Tokyo, but the realization of his designs were a great disappointment to the artist, since the Japanese organization behind the venture did not wait for his final designs, but decided to move ahead with nothing more than Giger's rough preliminary sketches. For that reason, Giger disowned the Tokyo Giger Bar and never set foot inside. Within a few years, the establishment was out of business.[citation needed] The two Giger Bars in his native Switzerland (in Gruyères and Chur), however, were built under Giger's close personal supervision and reflect his original concepts for them accurately. At The Limelight in Manhattan, Giger's artwork was licensed to decorate the VIP room, the uppermost chapel of the landmarked church, but it was never intended to be a permanent installation and bore no similarity to the real Giger Bars in Switzerland. The arrangement was terminated after two years when the Limelight closed its doors.[10] As of 2009 only the two authentic Swiss Giger Bars remain.

His art has greatly influenced tattooists and fetishists worldwide. Under a licensing deal Ibanez guitars released an H. R. Giger signature series: the Ibanez ICHRG2, an Ibanez Iceman, features "NY City VI", the Ibanez RGTHRG1 has "NY City XI" printed on it, the S Series SHRG1Z has a metal-coated engraving of "Biomechanical Matrix" on it, and a 4-string SRX bass, SRXHRG1, has "N.Y. City X" on it.[5]

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.


Jonathan Davis with his microphone stand

Work for recording artists[edit]

Interior decoration[edit]

Computer games[edit]


  1. ^ "Out of this world: {...} Welcome to the Giger Bar". Samantha Warwick. The Guardian. 29 April 2006. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  2. ^ The 52nd Academy Awards (1980) Nominees and Winners (Oscars.org).
  3. ^ "H. R. Giger". Science Fiction Awards Database (sfadb.com). Mark R. Kelly and the Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  4. ^ "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame: EMP welcomes five major players". [June 2013].
     "H.R. Giger: The man behind the monster, Alien". EMP Museum (empmuseum.org). Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Hans Ruedi Giger, HR Giger ARh+, tr. Karen Williams, Taschen, 1993, ISBN 978-3-8228-9642-6
  6. ^ Gary Singh, "Giger Harvest", Silicon Alleys, Metro Silicon Valley, July 8–14, 2009, p. 8
  7. ^ "H.R. Giger's Sanctuary | 2007 Palm Springs Festival of Short Films | Nick Brandestini | Steve Ellington | Switzerland". Psfilmfest.org. 2007-08-15. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  8. ^ "Reference on www.hplovecraft.com". 
  9. ^ Sheldon Teitelbaum, "Giger's Necronomicon Imagery Comes Alive on the Screen", Cinefantastique vol. 18 no. 4, May 1988, http://www.littlegiger.com/articles/files/Cinefantastique_18_04.pdf p. 13 (PDF) viewed July 9, 2009
  10. ^ Frank X. Owen, Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture, New York: St. Martin's, 2003, p. 269.
  11. ^ "Interview: Ridley Scott Talks Prometheus, Giger, Beginning of Man and Original Alien". Filmophilia. December 17, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  12. ^ Prog Archives – Island Pictures
  13. ^ HR Giger. Taschen. 2002. p. 114. ISBN 3-8228-1723-6. 
  14. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]