H R Giger

H. R. Giger is recognized as one of the world’s foremost artists of Fantastic Realism. Born in 1940 to a chemist’s family in Chur, Switzerland, he moved in 1962 to Zurich, where he studied architecture and industrial design at the School of Applied Arts. By 1964 he was producing his first artworks, mostly ink drawings and oil paintings, resulting in his first solo exhibition in 1966, followed by the publication and world-wide distribution of his first poster edition in 1969. Shortly after, he discovered the airbrush and, along with it, his own unique freehand painting style, leading to the creation of many of his most well known works, the surrealistic Biomechanical dreamscapes, which formed the cornerstone of his fame. To date, 20 books have been published about Giger’s art.

Giger’s third and most famous book, Necronomicon, published in 1977, served as the visual inspiration for director Ridley Scott’s film Alien, Giger’s first film assignment, which earned him the 1980 Oscar for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects for his designs of the film’s title character and the stages of its lifecycle, plus the film’s the otherworldly environments. Giger’s other film works include Poltergeist II, Alien3 and Species.

Giger’s album covers for Debbie Harry and the band ELP were voted among the 100 best in music history in a survey of rock journalists. Throughout his career, Giger also worked in sculpture and, in 1988, created his first total environment, the Tokyo Giger Bar, and in 1992 a second Giger Bar in Chur.

The HR Giger Museum, inaugurated in the summer of 1998 in the Château St. Germain, celebrates its 10 Anniversary this summer. The four-level building complex in the historic, medieval walled city of Gruyères, Switzerland is the permanent home to many of the artist’s most prominent works. It houses the largest collection of the artist’s paintings, sculptures, furnitures and film designs, dating from the early 1960’s until the present day. Displayed on the museum’s top floor is Giger’s own private collection of more than 600 works by artists such as Salvador Dali, Ernst Fuchs, Dado, Bruno Weber, Günther Brus, Claude Sandoz, François Burland, Friedrich Kuhn, Joe Coleman, Sibylle Ruppert, Andre Lassen, among many others.

The HR Giger Museum Bar, located in the adjoining wing of the museum complex, opened on April 12, 2003. Giger’s designs for the bar emphasizes the pre-existing Gothic architecture of the 400 year old space. The giant skeletal arches covering the vaulted ceiling, together with the bar’s fantastic stony furniture, evoke the building’s original medieval character and give the space a church-like feeling.

Since 1999, in an effort to help broaden the appreciation of his museum visitors for other Fantastic and Surrealist artists, Giger has utilized a three room exhibition space as The H.R. Giger Museum Gallery where, on a continuing basis, he features the works of other masters in this genre. Artists already shown have been Wessi, Prof. Ernst Fuchs, Hans Bellmer, Fred Knecht, Stelio Diamantopoulos, Martin Schwarz, Claude Sandoz, Günther Brus, François Burland, Rudolf Stüssi, The Society for Art of Imagination and Victor Safonkin.

During the last 4 years, Giger has been honored with a series of major museum retrospectives. In 2004 was the opening of a six-month exhibition at the Museum Halle Saint Pierre in Paris, France, the largest exhibition of the artist’s work to ever take place outside of Switzerland. Over one year in preparation, ninety percent of the artwork was on loan from Giger’s collectors, including three Swiss museums. The display of more than 200 pieces spanned four decades of the celebrated artist’s career, covering two floors of the museum’s exhibition space. On December 17, 2004, H.R. Giger received the prestigious award, “La Médaille de la Ville de Paris”, at Paris City Hall.

The Paris retrospective was followed by an exhibition of equal scope in 2005 at the National Technical Museum of Prague, in the Czech Republic and in 2006 by at the Kunsthaus Wien, in Austria. In July, 2007 Giger had his first museum exhibition Switzerland at the Bundner Kunstmuseum, in the city of his birth, Chur. He continues to live and work in Zurich with his wife, Carmen Maria Giger, co-director of the Giger Museum.

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