Hans Rudi Giger was born in Chur, Switzerland on 5 February, 1940. He is an artist whose work is most easily described as 'surrealist'. However, it is quite unlike anything by other well-known surrealists, such as Salvador Dali.
Giger's works have included paintings, clothing, masks, sculpture, furniture, pencil drawings, photomontages and films. The work for which he is the most famous, however, are his contributions to Ridley Scott's 1979 movie Alien. Giger designed the creature in all its various stages (egg, face-hugger, chest-burster and adult), as well as the ship in which it was found and its desiccated pilot. He was awarded an Oscar for his contribution to the film.
He also contributed concept work to an unfilmed project based on Frank Herbert's Dune (later filmed by David Lynch), and designs for the films Poltergeist II (a film he was not happy with) and Species, for which he designed both the main creature, Sil, and the Ghost Train of whom she dreams - an image he fought to have included in the film. He has also contributed to album covers for Debbie Harry (Kookoo), Emerson Lake and Palmer (Brain Salad Surgery) and, controversially, for the Dead Kennedys (Frankenchrist).
Alien, however, still represents his best-known work, and it is in many ways representative of his works as a whole. Giger seems fascinated with the marriage of flesh and metal - he calls his creations 'biomechanoids'. Many of his paintings and sculptures are weird juxtapositions of the natural and the artificial, steel and skin penetrating each other.
A Photorealistic Quality
Giger paints using an airbrush. It gives his paintings an almost photorealistic quality quite at odds with the fantastical scenes they portray. Dutch customs officers apparently once thought they were photographs and impounded them, releasing them only when an independent expert was brought in to certify that they were indeed paintings. As Giger himself said:
Where on earth do they think I could have photographed my subjects? In Hell, perhaps?
Many of the female faces that can be seen in Giger's early work are based on Li Tobler, an actress with whom he had an intense nine-year relationship until her death by suicide in 1975.
A Giger bar in Tokyo, decorated in biomechanoid style, opened in 1988. There are also two in Switzerland: one in Giger's hometown of Chur and the other in Gruyeres. The latter is also a museum dedicated to Giger's works.