The Swiss artist Hans Rudolf "Ruedi" Giger, better known as HR Giger, has died aged 74 after suffering injuries after a fall. Giger was internationally renowned for designing the iconic extraterrestrial in Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece Alien. The film was a masterful exercise in suspense and terror, led by Sigourney Weaver but dominated by Giger's horrific predator. The designer was awarded an Oscar for his work on the film in 1980.
Giger reportedly suffered from sleep disorders and his paintings are to some extent inspired by his experience with night terrors – an affliction notorious for the appearance of dark, shadowy, alien figures.
Born in 1940, Giger moved to Zurich to study architecture and industrial design, and turned to art post-graduation. His design for Alien was based on his painting Necrom IV, from his book of paintings Necronomicon. While scouting a designer for the film, Ridley Scott stumbled upon Giger's work. "I took one look at it," Scott once said, "and I've never been so sure of anything in my life." Scott flew to Zurich to personally secure Giger's talents for the film.
Giger was influenced by other artists, namely the writer HP Lovecraft, who had written a grimoire called Necronomicon and the British painter Francis Bacon. Giger credits the design of the Alien's facehugger to Bacon's 1944 triptych Three Studies For Figures At The Base Of A Crucifixion.
"You know the painter Francis Bacon?" he told Starlogmagazine. "He did Three Studies At The Base Of A Crucifixion in 1945, and there is a kind of beast in it that has a head that is only a mouth. Ridley said he wanted something like that. It was logical. This beast had to come out, to chew and claw its way out of man’s chest. The only important thing is teeth.”
Giger also directed films, including Giger's Alien, a documentary about the making of Alien and a 1968 film called Swiss Made 2068, for which Giger also designed a biomechanoid humanoid, not too dissimilar from the physiology of his extra-terrestial designs.
He also made forays into the world of music art, designing album covers for Debbie Harry, Emerson Lake and Palmer and Danzig amongst others.
The HR Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland, houses his work permanently and is maintained by his wife Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger.
Watch HR Giger talk about his nightmarish creations below: