H.R. GIGER’s Private Life Was Just as Dark, Sexy, and Pop as His Art

HR Giger_polaroids

The late Swiss artist H.R. Giger is best known for his xenomorphic monster in Ridley Scott’s Alien. Giger, who won an Academy Award for his design of the film, modeled the creature partly from Francis Bacon’s 1944 triptych Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. It was composed in the studio using biological and mechanical materials such as snake vertebrae and Rolls-Royce tubes. The famous chestburster scene, in which the xenomorph is born, was filmed using freshly steamed offal from the local abattoir, including cow, sheep, and pig intestines plus a few parcels that defy categorization. “If the actor is just acting terrified,” Scott once said, “you can’t get the genuine look.” For his part Giger has said, “I never do harmless things like flowers. If they are flowers, they are the flowers that eat someone.”

Yet Giger’s role in Alien did more than make the film scary—it also made it erotic. After all, sex, death, and biomechanics are what distinguish Giger’s true original oeuvre. In the recently published book H.R. Giger: Polaroids—comprised of a range of unpublished images by the artist—the skull model of the Alien head and tail are shown in 1979 series of two women using them as cyborg sex toys, BDSM beasts. Other Polaroids—which Giger personalized by scratching, painting, and drawing over them with surreal animations—include self-portraits, airbrushed fashion exoskeletons, and deeply disturbing moquettes that combine design, horror, fetish, pop, and an inscrutable sense of humor.

Over the course of 50 years, Giger, who was a friend to Alejandro Jodorowsky, Salvador Dalí, and Debbie Harry, created a grotesque gesamtkunstwerk that included paintings, scenographies, books, restaurants, and industrial design, and Polaroids presents a glimpse into the backend of this world, a kind of darkroom come to light. “Giger’s work,” claimed Timothy Leary, “shows us all too clearly where we come from and where we are going. It spooks us because of its enormous evolutionary time span.” Beyond its otherworldly form, Giger’s work was also a prescient aesthetic thrust into the post-Cold War politics that defined the last few decades of his life. “I was totally blown away the minute I saw it,” says Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra about Giger’s work. “I thought, ‘Wow! That is the Reagan era on parade. Right there! That shows how Americans treat each other now.’ He captured it in a nutshell.”

H.R. Giger: Polaroids is self-published (Zürich, 2014).




  • ALL A DAT ALL A DAT: Rap Crew 67 Can Make Anything

    Members ASAP, Monkey, LD, Dimzy, Liquez, and SJ are branching out. “67 can release rizla,” says LD ahead of the UK drill collective’s appearance this weekend in Berlin. “Not everybody can do that. A lot of people are just rappers.”More
  • 032c Resist Collection

    032c Resist Pin

  • David Ostrowski Brings Bauhaus to Warsaw’s Galeria Wschód

    The painter David Ostrowski has been off the radar for the last few years. A former student of Albert Oehlen and graduate of the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Ostrowski is best known for his large abstract paintings, which often include the use of spray cans and a formalistic approach to shape. Now he's back, with a new body of work and two shows – the first of which opens in Warsaw at the progressive gallery space Wschód this weekend.More
  • 032c WWB Collection

    032c WWB Rugby Shirt Black

    Buy Now
  • Anders Haal and Nicole Walker Imagine Total Fluidity on Humanity’s Next Planet

    The late Stephen Hawking was convinced that humanity's time on Earth was coming to a close, and proposed Proxima Centauri b as a second planetary home. The transition off-world is one subject in a new fashion book by stylist Nicole Walker and Anders Haal, founder of Stockholm-based fashion label HAAL, that considers the illogic of borders on a cosmic scale. Here we preview the book's opening visual essay.More
  • 032c WWB Collection

    032c WWB “Chevignon by 032c” Cosmo Jacket Green

    Buy Now