Born: Chur, Switzerland
“Some people would say my paintings show a future world and maybe they do, but I paint from reality.”
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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, more than 20 books have been published about Giger’s art.
Giger’s most famous book, Necronomicon, published in 1977, served as the visual inspiration for director Ridley Scott’s film Alien, Giger’s first high-profile film assignment, which earned him the 1980 Oscar for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects for his designs of the film’s title character, including all the stages of its lifecycle, plus the film’s the extraterrestrial environments. Giger’s other well-known film work includes his designs for Poltergeist II, Alien3 and Species, as well as the legendary unmade film, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune.
From the onset of his career, Giger also worked in sculpture and had an abiding desire to extend the core elements of his artistic vision beyond the confines of paper into the 3D reality of his surroundings. But it wasn’t until 1988 that he was given the opportunity to design his first total environment, a Giger Bar in Tokyo, Japan. However, it was four more years before his concepts were properly realized, under his personal supervision, with the opening of a second Giger Bar in Chur, the city of his birth, in 1992.
The HR Giger Museum, a further extension of this dream, opened its doors in June of 1998, in the Chateau St. Germain, in the historic medieval walled city of Gruyères, Switzerland. As the permanent home to many of the artist’s most prominent works, the museum houses the largest collection of Giger’s paintings, sculptures, furniture and film designs, dating from the early 1960’s to the present day. The top floor of the four-level building complex houses prime examples of Giger’s vast private art collection, which includes works by Salvador Dali, Ernst Fuchs, Dado, Bruno Weber, Günther Brus, Claude Sandoz, François Burland, Friedrich Kuhn, Joe Coleman, Sibylle Ruppert, Andre Lassen, as well as works by many other of the artist’s accomplished contemporaries.
In 1999, to help broaden the art appreciation of the younger visitors to the museum, Giger inaugurated a three-room exhibition space in the adjoining wing of the museum as The Giger Museum Gallery. There, on a six month rotating basis, Giger has presented, in expanded one person shows, the work of Prof. Ernst Fuchs, Hans Bellmer, Fred Knecht, Stelio Diamantopoulos, Martin Schwarz, Claude Sandoz, Günther Brus, François Burland, Victor Safonkin, Sybille Ruppert and others, many of whom already in his private collection.
In continuing evolution, the spring of 2003 marked the celebration of the official opening of the H.R. Giger Museum Bar. Giger’s designs for the 400-year-old space emphasize its pre-existing Gothic architecture. 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 bar a cathedral-like feeling.
During the last 6 years, Giger has been honored with a series of major museum retrospectives. 2004 saw the opening of a six-month exhibition at the Museum Halle Saint Pierre in Paris, France. “Le monde selon H.R. Giger” (The World According to H.R. Giger) was the largest exhibition of the artist’s work to take place outside of his native Switzerland. Over one year in preparation, ninety percent of the work on loan was assembled from Giger’s art collectors, including three Swiss museums. The display of more than 200 pieces, covering two floors of the museum’s exhibition space, spanned four decades of the celebrated artist’s career. 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 ‘H.R. Giger in Prague” in 2005 at the National Technical Museum of Prague, in the Czech Republic and in 2006 by “Giger in Wien” at the Kunsthaus Wien, in Austria. In July of 2007 Giger was honored with his first museum exhibition in the city of his birth, at the Bündner Kunstmuseum, in Chur, Switzerland, followed in October by his first major exhibit in Spain, at The Polytechnic University of Valencia.
In back-to-back shows, January 2009 heralded the opening of “KUNST – DESIGN – FILM”, a traveling retrospective of Giger’s film designs, at the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany, which was followed by the opening of a major retrospective in October at the SALA KUBO – KUTXA, in San Sebastián, Spain. In January 2010, the traveling film retrospective moved to its next venue, the Tampere Art Museum in Finland. In March of 2011, HR Giger – “Dreams and Visions” opened at the Kunsthaus Wien, Austria.
2012 saw exhibitions in Hamburg, Germany and Moscow and Istanbul. Plans are in the works for further major exhibitions, as well as participation in numerous group exhibitions at galleries and museums around the world.