Artist H.R. Giger, Creator Of Surreal Biomechanics, Dies | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Artist H.R. Giger, Creator Of Surreal Biomechanics, Dies

Play associated audio

You might not know the name, but you probably know the work: H.R. Giger created some of the most powerfully creepy visuals in Hollywood's history, including animals and props that forced some viewers of 1979's sci-fi film Alien to watch the film through their fingers.

Hans Rudolf Giger was 74; he died in Zurich from injuries suffered in a fall, a representative of the H.R. Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland, tells the AP.

In a career that spanned decades, Giger reflected humanity's increasingly close (and sometimes fearful) relationship with machines, creating work that seamlessly melds the organic with the mechanical. Wired magazine has said he merged "sex, tech, legend."

His unique style helped the Swiss artist win an Oscar for his work on Alien.

Writing about how that style developed, Wired reported that in Chur, Switzerland, Giger lived "an idyllic childhood in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But it harbored forbidding structures and estranged elements that left an impression on a child subjected to night terrors and panic attacks."

Giger's unique aesthetic also inspired a Giger Bar in Tokyo; another opened up in his hometown.

As the website io9 reports, Giger "became a concept designer for movies like Species, Poltergeist 2, Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune, and even Batman Forever (although his Batmobile design wasn't used, unfortunately)."

Giger's work also included album covers, as the AP notes:

"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."

Update at 4:51 p.m. EDT: All Things Considered talked to Giger's friend and publisher James Cowman, who said the artist's work was inspired by his dreams.

"He would have nightmares, going through passages and tunnels and this sort of thing. And took his dreams and put them on paper," Cowan says.

Cowan is the owner of Morpheus Fine Art in Las Vegas. He published Giger's art books for more than 20 years and says while he is best known for designing scary creatures in Hollywood, he was also a very skilled artist with a passion for surrealism.

"It was his mother who gave him a postcard when he was a little boy of a Dali painting. And it just transfixed him," he says.

Last year Giger was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and Cowan says he will go down as one of the great surrealists of our time.

"He has a place in the pantheon of great painters. No question about it. And if you go back to Salvador Dali and all the great masters of imaginative art, Giger's right in there," he says.

Cowan adds that Giger, despite his dark themes, was a kind man.

"You can't judge a book by its cover. You can't judge an artist by his painting in that regard. He was a dear friend and he'll be sorely missed," he says.

You can hear the segment above.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Passages' Author Reflects On Her Own Life Journey

Gail Sheehy is famous for her in-depth profiles of influential people, as well as her 1976 book on common adult life crises. Now she turns her eye inward, in her new memoir Daring: My Passages.
NPR

Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

Hugh Merwin, an editor at Grub Street, bought a 63-ounce jug of pumpkin spice syrup and put it in just about everything he ate for four days. As he tells NPR's Scott Simon, it did not go well.
NPR

Texas Gubernatorial Candidates Go To The Border To Court Voters

Republicans have won every statewide office in Texas for 20 years, but the growing Hispanic population tends to vote Democrat, and the GOP's survival may depend on recruiting Hispanic supporters.
NPR

In San Diego, A Bootcamp For Data Junkies

Natasha Balac runs a two-day boot camp out of the San Diego Supercomputer Center for people from all types of industries to learn the tools and algorithms to help them analyze data and spot patterns in their work.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.