H. R. Giger – artist

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Hans Rudolf “Ruedi” Giger (born 5 February 1940, died 12 May 2014) was 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 1979 film Alien. His designs were also featured in subsequent Alien films, including Prometheus. Other films featuring his work include Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Future-Kill (poster design), Killer Condom and Species.

Giger 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, 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.

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Giger was born in Chur, Switzerland, the son of a chemist. He spoke of a father who viewed art as a “breadless profession”, and strongly encouraged his son to enter into pharmaceutics. Despite this, in 1962, he moved to Zürich, where he studied Architecture and industrial design at the School of Applied Arts until 1970.

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He began 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. 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. His main influences were painters Ernst Fuchs and Salvador Dalí. He suffers from night terrors and his paintings are all to some extent inspired by his experiences with that particular sleep disorder. Giger was very influenced by the works of the American horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft.

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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…

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