I was shocked and saddened to hear that revered Swiss artist H.R. Giger passed away yesterday at the age of 74, apparently after a fall.
I got my first look at his work in 1973 when, as a teenager perusing new albums at a record store, I came across Brain Salad Surgery, the latest release by British prog-rockers Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Its cover depicted a skull encased in some kind of ancient machinery, and it totally caught my eye. I became even more entranced when I got the LP home and it folded open to reveal a dead/ sleeping/unconscious woman’s face.
I loved that cover so much I took it to Montreal when I interviewed ELP for their Black Moon “comeback” album back in ’92 and got them all to sign it.
But Giger’s otherworldly approach to macabre art had its greatest effect on me—and the world as a whole—when director Ridley Scott’s film, Alien, was released in 1979. Giger’s nightmarish creature designs for that unforgettable sci-fi shocker are what he’s best known for, and justifiably so.
“My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy,” Giger said in a 1979 interview with New York-based Starlog, the sister publication to horror magazine Fangoria. “If they like my work they are creative … or they are crazy.”