H.R. Giger: The Master of Biomechanical Art

Hans Ruedi Giger was an extraordinary Swiss artist whose unique creations fused human physiques with machines in a style known as "biomechanical." Born on February 5, 1940, Giger's artistic journey took him from airbrushed images...

H.R. Giger

Hans Ruedi Giger was an extraordinary Swiss artist whose unique creations fused human physiques with machines in a style known as "biomechanical." Born on February 5, 1940, Giger's artistic journey took him from airbrushed images to pastels, markers, and ink. His groundbreaking work included designing the iconic Alien creature for Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror film, which earned him an Academy Award.

Early Life

Giger was born in Chur, the capital city of Graubünden, Switzerland's largest and easternmost canton. Despite his father's disapproval of art as a career choice, Giger pursued his passion. He studied architecture and industrial design at the School of Applied Arts in Zürich, where he honed his skills until 1970.


Birth Machine sculpture in Gruyères Birth Machine sculpture in Gruyères

Giger's career took off when his posters were published and distributed by H. H. Kunz, the co-owner of Switzerland's first poster publishing company, starting in 1969. His unique style and thematic execution were highly influential, leading to his involvement in the Academy Award-winning special effects team for the film Alien. His books of paintings, notably the Necronomicon series, and his contributions to Omni magazine helped him gain international recognition. In 2013, Giger was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Personal Life

Giger had a relationship with Swiss actress Li Tobler until her tragic suicide in 1975. Many of his paintings feature Tobler's image. He later married Mia Bonzanigo in 1979, but their marriage ended after a year and a half. Giger's second wife, Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger, became the director of the H.R. Giger Museum in Zürich, where he lived and worked.

On May 12, 2014, Giger passed away in a Zürich hospital following a fall.

Style and Legacy

Giger's artistic journey started with small ink drawings before progressing to oil paintings. Throughout his career, he primarily worked with airbrush, creating monochromatic canvases that depicted surreal and nightmarish dreamscapes. His portrayal of human bodies intertwined with machines in a cold and interconnected manner, known as "biomechanical," became his most distinctive style. Influenced by artists such as Dado, Ernst Fuchs, and Salvador Dalí, Giger's work also showcased elements of Polish sculptor Stanislaw Szukalski, painters Austin Osman Spare and Mati Klarwein, and his personal friend Timothy Leary. Giger's art found its way into various media, including album covers, furniture, tattoos, and video games.

Films and Other Works

Giger's creativity extended beyond traditional art forms. He directed several films, such as Swiss Made, Tagtraum, Giger's Necronomicon, and Giger's Alien. His unique furniture designs, including the famous Harkonnen Capo Chair, were intended for Alejandro Jodorowsky's film adaptation of Dune but were ultimately utilized in other projects by different directors. Giger's biomechanical style even influenced interior design, resulting in the creation of Giger Bars in Switzerland's Chur and Gruyères, which faithfully reflect his original concepts.

Recognition and Legacy

Giger's impact on popular culture, particularly in the realms of science fiction and cyberpunk, cannot be overstated. His artwork transcended boundaries and influenced tattoo artists and fetishists worldwide. His contributions to the music industry included album covers for renowned artists such as Celtic Frost, Magma, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Giger's significant recognition led to numerous awards, including the Inkpot Award in 1979. Even after his passing, his artistic legacy continues to inspire and captivate audiences globally.


  1. HR Giger: Artist hailed for his surrealistic creatures in nightmare landscapes who won an Oscar for his work on 'Alien' - The Independent
  2. H. R. Giger - IMDb