"Giger's work disturbs us, spooks us because of its enormous evolutionary time-span. It shows us, all too clearly, where we came from and where we are going."
- Timothy Leary
Hans Rüdi Giger (pronounced "GEE-ger") is born February 5, 1940 in Chur, Switzerland to Melly Giger-Meier and Dr. Hans Richard Giger. Picking up an early fascination with painting and art in general, he begins at the School of Applied Arts in Zürich at age 24. At this time, he starts publishing drawings in the school paper, as well as various underground collections.
Among the first published drawings are the Atomkinder ("Nuclear Children"), published in the Chur school magazine. The weird, horribly deformed creatures, often doing various abysmal things, such as setting up guilloutines over windows or throwing grenades are very reminiscent of Giger's style.
In 1966, Hans meets actress Li Tobler, with whom he immediately falls in love, and they move to an attic in a condemned house in 1967. After the house is torn down in 1968, Li and Hans move to another condemned house, still painting. In these years, the Beggar, Suitcase Baby and several of the Landscapes are made.
The portfolio Biomechanoids is released in 1969, a concept that is essential in Giger's paintings and sculptures. During the seventies, he continues working, leading up to the release of the documentary Necronomicon in 1975 about the book of the same name.
Sadly, Li becomes increasingly depressed, culminating with her gun-inflicted suicide in 1975.
Then, in 1976, Giger is contacted by his colleague Bob Venosa, who mentions that Alejandro Jodorowsky is looking for artists to work on his interpretation of the Frank Herbert novel series Dune. Giger is to design the world of the evil warlords called Harkonnen, and produces a number of sketches and paintings.
Unfortunately, the Jodorowsky version of Dune is put aside, and is later handed to David Lynch. Soon after, though, Giger is commisioned by Dan O'Bannon to design the monster effects for a preliminary trailer for Alien movie. It is to be shown to various film-companies to raise money for the project. While he was at first only commisioned for the trailer, he is soon brought in to work on the movie itself.
Following the success of Alien, and the following Oscar for Best Achievement for Visual Effects in 1980, Giger starts working on his N.Y. City series, inspired by the several trips to the city during the late seventies. The paintings are bleak, mechanic, and very abstract (even compared to his other works), showing what appears to be the tall buildings and skyscrapers of the city.
Giger marries Mia Bonzanigo, whom he had met during his involvement with Alien. Unfortunately, also this marriage ends prematurely, though they are still friends.
After the success of Alien, Giger is asked to do similar work for the movie Poltergeist II 1985, only to find out too late that work has also started on the sequel to Alien. Bound by contract, he finishes the work on Poltergeist II, but is ultimately unhappy with the result, as he doesn't feel it is what he had in mind.
The movie is a box-office hit, though, and Giger's fame/infamy is not diminished. In 1988, a Giger-bar is opened in Tokyo, Japan, based on his designs. It has the trademark biomechanoid chairs and black interior, and has now become something of a popular phenomenon.
Aside from his film-work, Giger also works with other forms of media, and in the 1980ies, he created several record covers, such as Deborah Harry's Koo Koo and Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery. He also worked on the computergame Dark Seed from 1992, in which a man travels between the real world and the mysterious Dark World.
During the nineties, Giger has regained his underground status somewhat, rarely appearing in the media, though he did partake in designing the ultimately abysmal Species in 1995.
- A RH+ (Walter Zürcher Verlag, 1971)
- Passagen (Bündner Kunsthaus, 1974)
- H.R. Giger's Necronomicon (Sphinx Verlag, 1977)
- Giger's Alien (Sphinx Verlag, 1980)
- H.R. Giger N. Y. City (Sphinx Verlag, 1981)
- H.R. Giger, Retrospektive 1964-1984 (ABC Verlag, 1984)
- H.R. Giger's Necronomicon II (Edition C, 1985)
- H.R. Giger's Biomechanics (Edition C, 1988)
- ARh+ (Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1991)
Sources: www.giger.com, IMDB, "Strange Encounters of the Swiss Kind" by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein in Heavy Metal vol. V number 9 (December, 1981), H.R. Giger "ARh+"
Giger died in a hospital on May 12, 2014 after having suffered injuries in a fall. He was 74 years old.