Ľ H.R. Giger Biography

 by Susan Belmont - June 5, 2003

h. r. gigerGiger is the creator of hideous and fright inspiring images, which undoubtedly are most creative and original, and have influenced many modern surrealist artists of later years.

Hans Rudi Giger was always inspired by morbid and horror imagery, since his early days in Chur, Switzerland. He was born 1940, and his father was a chemist. Giger's greatest fun as a child was to frighten young girls with his friends.

In 1959, some drawings of deformed children of his were published by a couple of underground magazines and his school newspaper. He went to Zurich in 1962, to study architecture and industrial design at the College of Arts and Crafts, and he graduated 3 years later.

One year later Giger started working with designer Andreas Christen at Knoll International, went to live with the actor Paul Weibler, fell in love with a young actress called Li Tobler and started to create his first important works.

Giger and Li moved to the upper floor of an empty house in 1967 and that was when he started to get famous for his paintings, after an exhibition in the art gallery Obere Zšune and a documentary being made about his work.

giger paintingIn 1968, a friend of his called Basilio Schmid convinced him to quit his work at Knoll and dedicate himself totally to his art. This friend in later years would act as an agent of his, helping him sell his artworks. 

In that same year, Giger worked on a sci-fi movie called "Swiss Made", for which he prepared an armor for a dog and created a monster that was robotic-looking. His next important exhibitions happened in 1969, in Jorg Stummer's gallery and after that one, he showed his artworks in Germany and Austria too. 

The 70s was an important decade to his career and personal life as Giger would face a tragedy and the beginning of his glory days. 

After a few years living apart, Giger went to live with Li in Zurich, 3 years later he was hired to work on the cover of an album of the Progressive Rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

In 1975, Li opened her own gallery and by the end of the first exhibition, she organized a party where everyone should wear extravagant shoes and Giger, who filmed everything, was wearing loafs of bread on his feet. But all this merriment wouldn't last long, as Li suddenly killed herself with a revolver, leaving him totally lost.

His contribution with Hollywood started very slowly and deficiently. Giger was first hired to work on the film version of Frank Herbert's dark sci-fi story "Dune", but because of lack of financers the project didn't go on and he ended up working on the first "Alien" movie, for which he would be recognized worldwide.

But as there weren't financers to this project yet, it rolled on for one more year. Meanwhile, Giger met Mia Bonzanigo, who soon would be his wife.

The Alien filming started in 1978 and Giger was definitely chosen by director Ridley Scott and the producers after the painter gave them his illustrated book "Necronomicon". The movie featured Sigourney Weaver as the captain of the crew of a spaceship that after recovering what they thought was alien artifacts, gets almost totally decimated by a wild, strange and frightening alien - except for the captain. The movie would have other 3 continuations through the years.

giger alienBack in 1979, Giger traveled the world to promote his works and the movie, and his work was so amazing and avant-garde for the time that in the next year, he even was awarded with an Oscar for "Visual Effects", and this award was one of the greatest happenings in his life.

Through 1980, Giger's artworks for "Alien" were exhibited first in Zurich and in France, then in New York, and there was even an issue of Penthouse magazine dedicated to his erotic paintings.

By 1981, Giger was famous in both sides of the Atlantic and even restaurants in New York displayed his artworks in sculpture and painting. 

After the great success with "Alien", he started to be called to work on many movies in both continents through the next years. By 1985 he began to work on "Poltergeist 2", although he disliked the story and on "Alien 2". Also he created the illustrations for Issac Asimov's novel "The Route to Hyperspace", published "Necronomicon 2" and re-edited his first book.

1987 is the year Giger started to conquer the East by making his first exhibition in Tokyo, in which some of his most important works were displayed such as the original "Alien", the "Harkonnen" chair of the "Dune" project and items from "Poltergeist 2". Also many souvenirs were sold in Japan, such as his two books, posters and covers for laserdisc. And last but not least he was hired to design a monster for a Japanese movie too.

Through the next years Giger's fame and notoriety grew enormously throughout the world and his haunting images have been copied endlessly.

If you want to know more about him:

HR Giger's Official Site

The H2 Unofficial HR Giger Gallery

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