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Hans Rudolf "Ruedi" Giger (5 February 1940 – 12 May 2014)
He was a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer. He was part of the special effects team that won an Academy Award for Best Achievement for Visual Effects for their design work on the film Alien. He was named to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013.
Giger was born in 1940 in Chur, capital city of Graubünden, the largest and easternmost Swiss canton. His father, a chemist, viewed art as a "breadless profession" and strongly encouraged him to enter pharmaceutics, Giger recalls. Yet he moved in 1962 to Zürich, where he studied Architecture and industrial design at the School of Applied Arts until 1970. Giger had a relationship with Swiss actress Li Tobler until she committed suicide in 1975. He married Mia Bonzanigo in 1979; they separated a year and a half later.
Giger's style and thematic execution were influential. His design for the Alien was inspired by his painting Necronom IV and earned him an Oscar in 1980. His books of paintings, particularly Necronomicon and Necronomicon II (1985) and the frequent appearance of his art in Omni magazine continued his rise to international prominence. Giger is also well known for artwork on several music recording albums.
In 1998 Giger acquired the Château St. Germain in Gruyères, Switzerland, and it now houses the H. R. Giger Museum, a permanent repository of his work. The artist lived and worked in Zürich with his wife, Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger, who is the Director of the H.R. Giger Museum.
On 12 May 2014, Giger died in a hospital in Zürich after having suffered injuries in a fall.
Giger got his start with small ink drawings before progressing to oil paintings. For most of his career, Giger had worked predominantly in airbrush, creating monochromatic canvasses depicting surreal, nightmarish dreamscapes. However, he then largely abandoned large airbrush works in favor of works with pastels, markers or ink.
His most distinctive stylistic innovation was that of a representation of human bodies and machines in a cold, interconnected relationship, he described as "biomechanical". His main influences were painters Ernst Fuchs and Salvador Dalí. He met Salvador Dalí, to whom he was introduced by painter Robert Venosa. He was also a personal friend of Timothy Leary. Giger suffered from night terrors and his paintings are all to some extent inspired by his experiences with that particular sleep disorder. He studied interior and industrial design at the School of Commercial Art in Zurich (from 1962 to 1965) and made his first paintings as a means of art therapy.
In 2007, Giger and his work were subjects of a 19-minute documentary, H.R. Giger's Sanctuary, which toured internationally and was released on DVD in May 2008.
Giger applied his biomechanical style to interior design.
His art has greatly influenced tattooists and fetishists worldwide. Under a licensing deal Ibanez guitars released an H. R. Giger signature series: the Ibanez ICHRG2, an Ibanez Iceman, features "NY City VI", the Ibanez RGTHRG1 has "NY City XI" printed on it, the S Series SHRG1Z has a metal-coated engraving of "Biomechanical Matrix" on it, and a 4-string SRX bass, SRXHRG1, has "N.Y. City X" on it
Giger is often referred to in popular culture, especially in science fiction and cyberpunk. William Gibson (who wrote an early script for Alien 3) seems particularly fascinated: A minor character in Virtual Light, Lowell, is described as having New York XXIV tattooed across his back, and in Idoru a secondary character, Yamazaki, describes the buildings of nanotech Japan as Giger-esque.
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