The Associated Press announced on May 13, 2014 that Swiss artist H.R. Giger, the man who designed the 'Alien' creature and other iconic works of horror art, had died as a result of a fall. He was 74. His death is a huge loss to fans of horror, sci-fi, and surrealist art.
But any great artist will always be survived by his work, and Giger will be remembered as a unique artist, who had the ability to dabble in a variety of mediums. His work remains the stuff of nightmares, sticking in our collective craw for eternity.
Giger began as a painter, and created a stylized 'biomechanoid' style; a blending of the human form with robotic elements. There was an unsettling feel to his work, with a drained color palette and a clinical mix of sexual organs and violent decay.
He first gained worldwide acclaim for his unsettling album covers, including Emerson, Lake and Palmer's 1974 album 'Brain Salad Surgery.'
This unsettling element was well represented in his work 'Necronomicon IV.' This was an inspiration to Dan O'Bannon as he penned his script for 'Star Beast', the original working title for 'Alien.' When O'Bannon showed the piece to director Ridley Scott, the filmmaker had a eureka moment; "That's it!" Scott then commissioned for Giger to join the production, designing both the "Xenomorph" creature, it's ship, and the egg-laying "facehuggers."
It was a watershed moment. There had never been a monster like it before in cinema, with it's unsettling sexual overtones and lack of eyes, the 'Alien' creature inspired countless nightmares...and imitators. Every insectoid, drool emitting creature that has come since is a direct descendant of Giger's work.
Giger would go on to create design work for movies like "Species", and some of his concepts were utilized in the ill-fated 'Dune' projects of both Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Lynch.
His work would continue to be used in album covers from artists as disparate as Danzig and Debbie Harry. He also designed his own line of guitars as well as a customized microphone stand for Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis.
He created the Giger Museum Bar in his home country of Sweden, where lovers of the macabre can enjoy his garish creations up close while enjoying a stiff drink. And his "biomechanoid"style has become hugely influential in tattoo art.
Amazingly, for an artist of his caliber, he was often dismissed by highbrow art critics, but his imprint on pop culture is undeniable.
R.I.P. H.R. Giger (1940-2014)