Great Escapes

05.13.14

Hollywood’s Sci-Fi Artist H.R. Giger Dead at 74

H.R. Giger, best known for his work on movies like Alien and Poltergeist 2, died at the age of 74. The best way to pay tribute to the surrealist artist: get a tattoo of his work.

Seventy-four-year-old Surrealist painter H.R. Giger, the man who influenced an entire generation of sci-fi films and fashion passed away on Monday due to complications after a fall at his home, the Associated Press reports.

Hans Ruedi Giger was best known for his contributions to Ridley Scott’s 1979 blockbuster film Alien, for which he received an Academy Award in special effects. Before being discovered, Giger—who was raised in rural Switzerland—was creating what he defined as “biomechanical art” that fused humans and machines into often times grotesque dystopian scenes.

“My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy,” Giger said in a 1979 interview, according to AP. “If they like my work they are creative…or they are crazy.”

Once Hollywood discovered his work, Giger quickly became one of the main concept designers for many big-screen hits such as Species, Poltergeist 2, and Batman Forever. However, the artist—after becoming frustrated with the industry—soon disowned many of his contributions.

His work also found its way onto many album covers throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s—for bands such as Celtic Frost, Danzig and Debbie Harry—sometimes landing the artists in hot water over their explicit content. Such was the case when popular punk band the Dead Kennedys included Giger’s Landscape #XX, a landscape of erect penises, inside their 1985 album Frankenchrist.

Giger thought the best form of flattery was the body art inspired by his work. “The greatest compliment is when people get tattooed with my work, whether it’s done well or not,” he told Seconds magazine in 1994. “To wear something like that your whole life is the largest compliment someone can pay to you as an artist.”

Giger’s namesake museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland, founded in 1998, carries on his legacy.