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H.R. Giger, Influential ‘Alien’ Designer, Dies at Age 74


H.R. Giger, the renowned Swiss artist whose Alien creature and set designs terrified, fascinated and inspired generations of fans and filmmakers, died Monday in a Zurich hospital from injuries sustained in a fall, Swissinfo reports. He was 74.

Famed for highly detailed, and frequently shocking, works that merged human and machine, eroticism and horror, Hans Rudolf Giger had a lifelong obsession with sex and death that found little appreciation in his native rural Switzerland. But in the worlds of music and film, he discovered eager audiences.

A surrealist painter, sculptor and furniture and set designer, Giger’s distinctive work appeared on such album covers as Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery and Debbie Harry’s Koo Koo, but the artist is best remembered for his contributions to film. His 1977 art book Necronomicon caught the eye of Alien director Ridley Scott, who hired Giger to design, among other elements, “The Derelict” spacecraft, “The Space Jockey” and the iconic Alien itself. He was part of the special effects team that won an Academy Award for Best Achievement for Visual Effects for its work on the film.

A director himself, with a half-dozen documentaries to his credit, Giger also worked on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unproduced adaptation of Dune, and such films as Alien 3, Poltergeist II, Species, Prometheus and Batman Forever, for which he created a radically different design for the Batmobile that was never used. However, as The Associated Press notes, Giger found himself frequently frustrated by the Hollywood production process, and eventually disavowed most of his work for film.

Giger’s influence reached beyond the screen, with his biomechanical paintings and sculptures embraced by tattooists, fetishists and horror aficionados, to say nothing of fellow artists. In 1992, opened the H.R. Giger Bar in Chur, Switzerland, modeled primarily after his designs for Alien. There were additional locations Tokyo, New York City (in the now-closed Limelight) and Gruyères, Switzerland, but only the two Swiss bars remain.

Despite, or perhaps because of, its popularity, Giger’s work was never widely accepted by critics nor displayed in established art galleries. But in 1998, he purchased the Château St. Germain in Gruyères and opened the H.R. Giger Museum.


  • Vizator

    A sad day when this happens despite his age but at least his work lives on.

    (Wonder who the first moron to say, “Did not see this coming” will be?)

  • Dwi

    Well if hes dead he cant see anything

  • Francisco A. Pizarro

    An important lost for the artistic world. He’ll always be missed, and all the crazy sexual gory stuff he made up, will never be unseen.

  • fod_xp

    Probably my favorite contemporary artist. I am deeply saddened by this brilliant man’s death. There was nothing out there like his sublime, yet horrific art. It was a like some erotic nightmare you never wanted to wake up from.

  • demoncat_4

    a sad day for fans and holly wood have lost a true unique master of special effects. rip hr your legacy will live on . sympathy to his friends and family for their loss of a unique guy

  • David Fullam

    One of the most influential artists to emerge from the 2oth Century.

  • theo j. williams

    Years ago at an S-F convention, someone costuming as Giger’s ‘Alien’ was later to be seen playing air-guitar at the Saturday-night dance…I think he’d have loved to see that…

  • Devin

    Last year we lost Harryhausen, now Giger. The future looks bleak.

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  • Tommy Rankin

    I love it how a local newspaper had a headline on its site saying “Designer who created the Alien’s look from Alien movies died” but here the headline is “Influential Alien designer died” subtle yet big difference.

    But man these are bleak times when people who worked on great classic films are dropping left and right. We just don’t get similar classics these days and by the looks of it it’s not gonna change soon.

    RIP H.R.

  • Brandt Hardin

    Fusing the erotic, gothic and surreal- Giger was an art movement unto himself. He inspired me from an early age with his fantastic dreamscapes and esoteric imagery. I was compelled to illustrate a tribute to him this week drawing imagery from his own works including Alien and the Birthing Machine at . Drop by and share how his artwork opened your own mind!