Hans Rudolf ‘Ruedi’ Giger, commonly known as H.R. Giger, certainly doesn’t need an introduction. Considered one of the most influential artists ever, his work has launched millions of nightmares over the past fifty years. Originally studying industrial design, Giger suffered from night-terrors so intense he was compelled to paint them on a canvas. Though he used many different styles, much of his most familiar work comes from using an airbrush and stencils made from metal grids for landscapes and backgrounds.
Born in 1940, Giger sadly passed away in 2014 from complications after a fall. An obsessive and disciplined artist, Giger (pronounced with two hard g’s, sounds like geezer) never used the internet or email, fearing it would cloud his vision and influence his mind. He would only conduct interviews at his studio, which was one of the many Giger museums in Europe. The term biomechanical, coined in the 19th century, is used to describe Giger’s art, and he is without a doubt, the best descriptor of the biomechanical art style. Infusing the mechanical into biology, specifically metal into flesh, suggests a futurism humans are swiftly moving towards, especially considering advances in technology and the digital realm. Giger’s most famous and memorable work, in the film Alien (1979), focused heavily on the biomechanical, was considered cutting edge and extremely disturbing at the time, and remains so today.
If Lovecraft gave the directions to the road to madness, then surely Giger is the cartographer of those desolate nightmare lands. Yes, I just plagiarized myself from an article I wrote about him years ago, but the sentiment bears repeating. Giger was heavily influenced by H.P Lovecraft. He painted his nightmares on giant canvases with an intricate detail that’s impossible to imitate. Disturbing, erotic, dangerous, transgressive, nightmarish … those words really don’t do the master much justice. It’s as though there aren’t really any words that can describe his art. His work has been used in film, album and book covers, even sculpted into microphone stands. There is really no one who can come close to Giger’s style, yet he remains one of the most influential artists ever, inspiring creatives in every artist medium.
There are tons of images online of Giger’s work, but even high resolution scans can’t convey the amount of detail in each painting. Ideally, Giger’s works are meant to be viewed in person, up close and personal, so you can see the little things he did, like working tiny skulls into the outlines of his painting. But it’s not like everyone can just hop on a plane and head over to one of his museums anytime they want to, so we’re fortunate for the internet, the one place Giger avoided, to provide us with decent scans of his paintings. Since his death, Giger’s art book prices have skyrocketed, so I find myself very fortunate to own one of his volumes, Necronomicon II. There are enough story prompts in a handful of his paintings to last a lifetime. If you love horror, then his work should certainly be part of your ongoing horror education.
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