The innovative Swiss artist, best known as the primary designer, including of the title creature, on Ridley Scott’s Alien, died on Monday from falling down stairs at his home in Zurich. He was 74.
A painter, sculptor and designer, Giger’s work, which was influenced by Ernst Fuchs and Salvador Dali as well as his own nightmares from which he suffered greatly, had a disturbing, surreal look to it that has been widely imitated. His most distinctive stylistic innovation was that of humans and machines fused together, something he described as “biomechanical”. From 1973, his work began to be featured on many album covers including releases by Debbie Harry, Emerson Lake And Palmer and The Dead Kennedy’s, where a complaint about the image of rows of genitalia on the cover resulted in the band’s vocalist Eric Reed Boucher being tried for distributing harmful material to minors in 1986, though the case was dismissed. As well as making his own films, he designed much of Alejandro Jodorowksy’s unfilmed Dune and won worldwide fame for his Xenomorph alien, as well as other things, in the 1979 Alien as well as his work on three of the sequels. His other film work includes Species, Killer Condom and, my favourite, that hideous ‘vomit creature’ that features in an unforgettable horror highlight from Poltergeist 2: The Other Side.
In 1998, Giger opened his own museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland, which alongside his own paintings and sculptures, displays works from his own art collection from the likes of Dali, Fuchs and Dada. It is still ran by his wife Carmen. In December 2004, Giger received the prestigious award, La Medaille de la Ville de Paris, at Paris City Hall. Last year, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle, along with fellow inductees, David Bowie and JRR Tolkien. His work has also been exhibited around the world, including recent retrospectives in Hamburg, Germany, Moscow and Istanbul.
Says Ridley Scott: “I am very saddened to hear of Giger’s passing. I think back on how committed and passionate he was, and then consequently, all the security we built up around his ‘lock up’ studios at Shepperton. I was the only one allowed the honour of going in, and I absolutely enjoyed every hour I spent with him there. He was a real artist and great eccentric, a true original, but above all, he was a really nice man. He will be missed”.