HR Giger, creator of aliens and surrealist of Switzerland, is dead

The Swiss surrealist HR Giger has died at the age of 74. Among many other achievements, he won an Oscar for the monster he created for Ridley Scott’s “Alien.”


Hans Rudolf Giger died in hospital from injuries sustained in a fall, the Swiss public broadcaster SRF reported Tuesday, citing sources close to his family. His death occurred the previous day.

Born in 1940 in the small eastern Swiss town of Chur, Giger moved to Zurich in 1962 to study architecture and industrial design. He quickly turned to fine art, producing the ink drawings and oil paintings displayed in his first solo exhibition four years later. Giger’s eventual discovery of the airbrush would lead to the unique freehand painting style that characterizes many of his most famous works.

Giger’s “biomechanical” style – his exploration of the relationship between the human body and the machine – found global fame when he created the eponymous monster and sets for Ridley Scott’s iconic 1979 film, “Alien,” with help from Carlo Rambaldi, the creator of the far-friendlier spaceman ET. With its elongated metallic head, dripping jaws and long sharklike teeth, the skeletal monster earned the artist the 1980 Academy Award for the visual effects. Giger would also design the centerpieces of a range of other well-known films, including Brian Gibson’s “Poltergeist II,” David Fincher’s disappointing “Alien 3” and the extraterrestrial from Roger Donaldson’s 1995 sci-fi horror movie, “Species.”

In 1998, the HR Giger Museum opened in the Swiss town of Gruyere, becoming home to the biggest permanent collection of his works. Run by the artist’s wife, Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger, the museum also houses works from his vast private art collection, including canvases by the Catalan surrealist Salvador Dali and the Swiss pop painter Friedrich Kuhn.

In recent years, museums in Paris, Prague, Vienna and elsewhere have presented retrospectives of Giger’s work.

mkg/kms (Reuters, AFP)