Hans Ruedi Giger, who used the artist name H.R. Giger, was born in 1940 to a chemist's family in Chur, Switzerland. In 1962, he moved to Zürich, 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 a few oils, leading to his first solo exhibition in 1966, followed by the publication and world-wide distribution of his first poster edition in 1969. Shortly after that, he discovered the airbrush and, along with it, his own unique freehand painting style, leading to the creation of many of his best-known works, the surrealistic bio-mechanical dreamscapes which formed the cornerstone of his fame.
His nightmarish paintings and drawings were a result from his own chronic "night terrors", a sleep disorder that causes feelings of terror or dread. This explains his interest in writers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, David Lynch and Ingmar Bergman, and painters like Dado, Ernst Fuchs, Salvador Dalí, Austin Osman Spare, Stanislas Szukalski and Mati Klarwein.
Giger's first book, 'Necronomicon', published in 1977 by Sphinx in Basel, served as the visual inspiration for director Ridley Scott's blockbuster movie 'Alien' (1979), It was Giger's first film assignment, although he was also involved in Alejandro Jodorowsky's unfinished adaptation of 'Dune' in the mid 1970s. 'Alien' earned him the 1980 Oscar for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects, for his designs of the film's title character and its otherworldly environment. Giger's other film work includes 'Poltergeist II' (1986), 'Alien 3' (1992) and 'Species' (1995). Giger was furthermore creative consultant for 'Kondom des Grauens' (1996), a film based on the eponymous comic by Ralf König.
Giger's album covers for Debbie Harry and Emerson, Lake & Palmer's 'Brain Salad Surgery' were voted among the 100 best in music history in a survey of rock journalists. His cover of the Dead Kennedys album 'Frankenchrist' (1985), with the self-sodomizing penises, was so controversial that the cover was refused and the band was accused of obscenity. His art also appeared in several issues of Heavy Metal Magazine.
Throughout his career, Giger also worked as a sculptor, and in 1992, he created his first total environment, the Giger Bar in Chur. The Museum H.R. Giger in Château Saint-Germain was opened in Gruyères in 1998. The artist lived and worked in Zürich with his wife, Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger, who is the Director of the H.R. Giger Museum. Giger passed away on 12 May 2014 at the age of 74, as a result of injuries sustained in a fall. Film director Oliver Stone said about him: "I do not know anybody else who has so accurately portrayed the soul of modern humanity. A few decades from now when they talk about twentieth century, they will think of Giger."