Sur­re­al­ist Artist Who Designed The Mon­ster For The Film ‘Alien’ Dies At 74


BERLIN (AP) — Swiss artist H.R. Giger, who designed the crea­ture in Rid­ley Scot­t’s sci-fi hor­ror clas­sic “Alien,” has died at age 74 from injuries suf­fered in a fall, his muse­um said Tuesday.

San­dra Mive­laz, admin­is­tra­tor of the H.R. Giger muse­um in Gruy­eres, west­ern Switzer­land, told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press that Giger died in a hos­pi­tal on Monday.

Giger’s works, often show­ing macabre scenes of humans and machines fused into hell­ish hybrids, influ­enced a gen­er­a­tion of movie direc­tors and inspired an endur­ing fash­ion for “bio­me­chan­i­cal” tattoos.

My paint­ings seem to make the strongest impres­sion on peo­ple who are, well, who are crazy,” Giger said in a 1979 inter­view with Star­log mag­a­zine. “If they like my work they are cre­ative … or they are crazy.”


HR Giger (2012)

Born Hans Rue­di Giger on Feb. 5, 1940, in the south­east­ern Swiss town of Chur, he trained as an indus­tri­al design­er because his father insist­ed that he learn a prop­er trade.

His moth­er Mel­li, to whom he showed a life­long devo­tion, encour­aged her son’s pas­sion for art, despite his uncon­ven­tion­al obses­sion with death and sex that found lit­tle appre­ci­a­tion in 1960s rur­al Switzer­land. The host of one of his ear­ly exhi­bi­tions was report­ed­ly forced to wipe the spit of dis­gust­ed neigh­bors off the gallery win­dows every morning.

A col­lec­tion of his ear­ly work, “Ein Fressen fuer den Psy­chi­ater” — “A Feast for the Psy­chi­a­trist” — used main­ly ink and oil, but Giger soon dis­cov­ered the air­brush and pio­neered his own free­hand tech­nique. He also cre­at­ed sculp­tures, prefer­ably using met­al, sty­o­ro­foam and plastic.

Giger’s vision of a human skull encased in a machine appeared on the cov­er of “Brain Sal­ad Surgery,” a 1973 album by the rock band Emer­son, Lake and Palmer. Along with his design for Deb­bie Har­ry’s solo album, “Koo Koo” (1981), it fea­tured in a 1991 Rolling Stone mag­a­zine list of the top 100 album cov­ers of all time.

Giger went on to work as a set design­er for Hol­ly­wood, con­tribut­ing to “Species,” ”Pol­ter­geist II,” ”Dune,” and most famous­ly “Alien,” for which he received a 1979 Acad­e­my Award for spe­cial effects. Fre­quent­ly frus­trat­ed by the Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­tion process, Giger even­tu­al­ly dis­owned much of the work that was attrib­uted to him on screen.

The image of a brood­ing, mys­te­ri­ous artist was nur­tured by Giger work­ing only at night, keep­ing his cur­tains per­ma­nent­ly drawn and dress­ing main­ly in black — a habit he acquired while work­ing as a drafts­man because it made Indi­an ink stains stand out less on his clothes.

While his work was com­mer­cial­ly suc­cess­ful, crit­ics derid­ed it as mor­bid kitsch. His designs were exhib­it­ed more fre­quent­ly in “Alien” theme bars, short-lived Giger muse­ums and at tat­too con­ven­tions than in estab­lished art galleries.

In 1998, Giger acquired the Chateau St. Ger­main in Gruy­eres and estab­lished the H.R. Giger Museum.

Giger was pleased that his idea of machines with human skin became a pop­u­lar motif in body art.

The great­est com­pli­ment is when peo­ple get tat­tooed with my work, whether it’s done well or not,” he told Sec­onds mag­a­zine in 1994. “To wear some­thing like that your whole life is the largest com­pli­ment some­one can pay to you as an artist.”

Details on sur­vivors and funer­al plans were not imme­di­ate­ly available.


David Ris­ing con­tributed to this report.