Swiss artist HR Giger, who designed the monster and sets for the sci-fi film Alien, has died at age 74, according to Reuters news service. Reuters, quoting representatives of the HR Giger Museum, is reporting that Giger, born Hans Rudolf in the Swiss town of Chur in 1940, died on Monday in Zurich after sustaining injuries from a fall.
Giger was best known for creating the title creature in Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror film Alien; the work earned him an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects in 1980.
According to the Reuters report, Giger studied architecture and industrial design in Zurich, and first experimented with ink drawing and polyester works before moving onto large freehand airbrush works. He was also known for his sculptures, paintings and furniture, many of which are on display in the museum.
“His work has really influenced make-up effects. He was one of the first to do that biomechanical texture and style—he always knew how to make something creepy but beautiful and still relatable,” said Constantine Sekeris, whose creature-design credits include Where the Wild Things Are, Grimm and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. “He completely influenced creature work because his designs were unbeatable. I have all his books and I’ve always referenced [them] when working on some sort of creature. He’s a master – it’s unfortunate we lost him.”
“HR Giger’s original designs inspired generations of artists and will continue to do so for generations to come,” said Jerad Merantz, whose creature and character design credits include Noah and The Amazing Spider-Man. “The alien has become a standard in creature design. It is the basis for comparison of almost every horror/sci-fi project I’ve ever worked on. Giger’s death is a tremendous loss for the arts and entertainment community.”
“It’s a sad, sad day—the guy was such a visionary,” said Steve Johnson, who worked with Giger as a character creator on Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Species and Species II. Johnson described the artist as a hands-on collaborator who wasn’t always happy with film recreations of his work. “When I first worked on Poltergeist, he was pretty happy,” Johnson said. “Then I did Species and I was taking two- to three-hour phone calls from Switzerland to bring his images to life.
“His passing hit me in a strange, deep place. He died way too early, and my God, the guy was a game changer. When Alien came out, it looked like it came from the mind of an alien. There’s a reason his artwork has been replicated and ripped off—he changed the way people looked at creatures.”