The Surreal Reality Of HR Giger

Published January 29, 2015
Updated July 25, 2019

Chances are that half the sci-fi movies you've ever seen have been inspired by HR Giger's artwork. Get to know him.

HR Giger At Work

Source: MTV

If the purpose of art is to hold a mirror up to reality and encourage us to look at the world in new and different ways, then Hans Rudolf Giger was one of the most successful artists of the 20th century. For over 40 years, from his first solo exhibition in 1966 to his 2011 death, Giger warped reality for audiences in art galleries and movie theaters around the world. His 1977 work, Necronom IV, caught the attention of director Ridley Scott and earned him a job as set designer for the 1980 film Alien.

HR Giger’s work on the film won an Oscar as well as an appreciative international following. Several books followed, as did at least two “Giger bars” built around his designs, which must be a lot of fun to drink around. H. R. Giger slipped and fell in May 2014, and died from complications in the hospital in Zurich shortly after.

A body of work like Giger’s cries out for some kind of explanation. If the man had grown up locked in a cage, or if his earliest memory was of the Joker killing his parents, then the great Gothic surrealism of his later work would make a kind of sense.

Actually, his childhood in the small Swiss town of Chur couldn’t have been more ordinary. His father was a pharmacist, and his mother was generally supportive of young Hans Ruedi’s work, even though he spent his teen years sketching pornography for his friends. Rather than a horror story of a childhood, Giger seems to have walked out of the same kind of upbringing that would later produce the Baader-Meinhof gang: bland European weltschmerz:

HR Giger Tourist
H. R. Giger had a knack for rendering grotesque figures that will haunt your nightmares forever. In past centuries, this would have gotten him burned as a witch. Progress! Source: NAROD

HR Giger Babies
Source: Photobucket

HR Giger Mordor Vi
Source: Taringa

HR Giger Crucifixion
You can't give an artist like Giger a subject like the Crucifixion and not expect something like this. Your fault, really. Source: Narrative In Art

HR Giger Spell
Source: Paul Squire

Birth Machine
There's usually a lot going on in a Giger piece. This one is called Birth Machine. Source: Wikipedia

HR Giger Temple

HR Giger NYC
Source: NAROD

HR Giger Babies Hatching
Aside from the Alien franchise, Giger's work inspired half of the movies you've ever seen. If these babies look familiar, it probably means you remember the torture scene from Brazil. Source: Vsbl Studio

HR Giger Sandworm
Or, you enjoyed Dune. Source: Deviant Art

HR Giger Borg
. . . or you've fantasized about catching Seven of Nine in the shower. Source: World Of Art Showcase

HR Giger Close Up
Source: Tiscali

HR Giger Lovers
This as good a place as any to mention the "erotic" elements in Giger's work. Virtually everything he ever did incorporates some element of sexual organs. Source: NAROD

HR Giger DP
Source: Blogspot

HR Giger Vlad Tepes
Source: Wordpress

HR Giger Portrait

Richard Stockton
Richard Stockton is a freelance science and technology writer from Sacramento, California.