Hans Ruedi "H.R." Giger (February 5, 1940 - May 12, 2014) was a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor, designer, and concept artist.
Known for his works' disquieting, biomechanical, often sexual imagery, Giger achieved much of his fame from his work in films as a set and creature designer. Among the film projects he worked on were Alien, Alien³, Dune, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Species, and Prometheus, which actually dusted off some unused concepts from a Pre-David Lynch Dune film that never got off the ground. Before this he provided two paintings for Emerson, Lake & Palmer's album Brain Salad Surgery, one of which had to be airbrushed for purposes of censorship. The Dead Kennedys included a poster of his painting Penis Landscape with their album Frankenchrist — for which they got in a little trouble, Danzig used his art for the cover of Danzig III: How the Gods Kill, and Celtic Frost used his painting Satan I for the cover of their seminal album To Mega Therion.
Giger also contributed art to the Dark Seed games, has a number of bars in Switzerland themed after his art (which are probably nice, comfortable places to get a drink), and designed incredibly menacing furniture.
Giger sadly passed away in May 2014 after sustaining injuries in a fall. Here's a comic of him seeing Hell for the first time. Too bad it's subjective Hell.
Common themes in Giger's work include:
- Admiring the Abomination: His works are likely to invoke this in artists and fans of psychology, horror, and design. His claim to mastery was not merely his talent for making high octane Nightmare Fuel, but his ability to make it aesthetically fascinating, incredibly cool, or even beautiful.
- Alien Kudzu: His favorite type of plant, closely followed by Meat Moss.
- Author Phobia: He's known to have incorporated his nightmares into his creations. Apparently, he often worked through his sleeplessness. Giger also had a phobia of worms and snakes.
- Body Horror: Tons of it. Trope Codifier for combining the two in creature design and modern scifi horror, his style inspiring an entire generation of later concept artists.
- Diesel Punk: One might easily get the impression from Giger's art that he himself was a some sort of biomechanical creation.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Giger suffered from intense and frequent nightmares. The things he saw in those dreams inspired all of his paintings and drawings.
- Eternal Engine: Whenever he decided to do a "landscape" that isn't set in the Bloody Bowels of Hell. Or at least when he decided to do one set in hell's industrial district.
- Evil Is Visceral: Much of his artwork is based on this, thus leading to many of its subtropes.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
- Penis Landscape
- His Xenoerotica portfolio collection.
- Fan Disservice: Giger's artwork frequently features nudity and sexual situations, which tends to be more unsettling (or worse) than sensual (see Nightmare Fetishist below).
- Nightmare Fetishist: He appears to be one, considering the sexual imagery common to his art and the fact that it was literally inspired by his night terrors. He even has a portfolio collection entitled Xenoerotica, which is exactly what is sounds like.
- Organic Technology: Much of his art portrays humans fused with machines, or humans boning machines, or humans that are fused with machines boning other humans fused with machines, etc. He even coined the term "biomechanical".
- Phallic Weapon: Inversion: Giger occasionally uses guns as a yonic metaphor. Google "Birth Machine" for an example.
- Spikes of Villainy: If a form isn't disquietingly organic, rounded, and smooth, it's probably sharp and pointy.
- Surreal Horror: A master of the genre.
- What Could Have Been:
- Giger contributed artwork for two Dune movies, specifically for the decadently corrupt Harkonnens (naturally).
- His concept artwork for Alien included a huge dome-like structure separate from the derelict spaceship where the facehugger eggs would have been housed, and a wall sculpture showing the alien life cycle from egg to chestburster and implying that the eggs came from a "mother"-like figure, hinting that the aliens were much more of an actual intelligent society than the insect analogues they became in Aliens. The dome ended up appearing in Prometheus.
- Giger designed a potential Batmobile◊ for Batman Forever that ultimately went unused.