Friday, 5 February 2021

H.R. Giger - Biomechanical Genius

It seems like only yesterday that I was celebrating the work of a visionary and here we are again...

Hans Ruedi Giger (1940 - 2014)

H.R. Giger
H.R. Giger
A legendary Swiss artist who is most famous for creating the monster for the sci-fi horror classic Alien (1979).  However, his art spans a period of almost 45 years and many different mediums.  To really appreciate the breadth of his talent, I heartily recommend you buy one of the Taschen Artbooks which feature his collected works.


He worked on a number of films over the years mostly in creature design applying his signature style of monochromatic airbrushed biomechanical to a variety of costume and set pieces.  

One surprising design was his radical reimagining of the Batmobile for the movie Batman Forever (1995) which would have seen Val Kilmer cruising the streets of Gotham in a nightmarish twiglet.

Batmobile by H.R. Giger
Batmobile by H.R. Giger

Album Artwork

He worked with many bands creating some pretty iconic album covers,  Most famously depicting Debbie Harry on the cover of the album "Koo Koo" and giving Emmerson, Lake and Palmer's "Brain Salad Surgery" and Industrial edge before Nine Inch Nails were a glint in the milkman's eye.

Notoriously the Dead Kennedy's used his painting Landscape #XX as the inner gatefold image for the album "Frankenchrist" and the ensuing obscenity lawsuit almost bankrupted Jello Biafra's label Alternative Tentacles.  You can see a high res version of this image on the Rolling Stone website.

The action arose at the same time as the infamous PMRC founded by Tipper Gore (The wife of Vice President Al Gore) and Susan Baker (wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker).  The famous "Tipper Stickers", which fearful record execs agreed to add to the album sleeves, had precisely the opposite effect to that intended.  In fact in the 80s you couldn't call yourself a serious musician unless your latest release sported its badge of honour.   

Bubble Babies

My personal favourite Giger artwork is his disturbing Landscape #XVIII one of a series of baby landscapes

Landscape XVIII - H.R. Giger
Landscape XVIII - H.R. Giger

The Giger Museum

If I ever get to visit Switzerland I will not be visiting the cuckoo clock factory instead I will be soaking up some culture in the Giger Museum in Gruyères.

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