Hans Ruedi Giger, 74, a surrealist artist, died in hospital on Monday from injuries suffered in the fall, said Sandra Mivelaz, administrator of the H R Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland.
Giger won a Visual Effects Oscar in 1980 for his work on Scott’s horror masterpiece Alien .
Inspired by HP Lovecraft, Giger’s horrific compendium of work, Necronomicon, inspired numerous aspects of Scott’s Alien.
One piece in particular — Necronom IV — inspired the titular alien killer which would go on to be called a xenomorph, magazine Starlog wrote in 1979.
“I took one look at it and I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life,” Scott said.
On his alien design, Giger said: “In the first design for the alien, he had big black eyes. But somebody said he looked too much like a Hell’s Angel, all in black with the black goggles. And then I thought it would be even more frightening if there are no eyes!
“We made him blind! Then when the camera comes close, you see only the holes of the skull. Now that’s really frightening. Because, you see, even without eyes he always knows exactly where his victims are, and he attacks directly, suddenly, unerringly. Like a striking snake. “
Giger also designed the derelict ship, the alien eggs and face-huggers found within, the infant xenomorph famous for bursting from John Hurt’s chest and the Space Jockey — which became the subject of Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus in 2012.
He continued to work in films — Poltergeist II in 1986, Alien 3 in 1992 and Species in 1995.
Giger’s works, often showing macabre scenes of humans and machines fused into hellish hybrids, influenced a generation of movie directors and inspired an enduring fashion for “biomechanical” tattoos.
“My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy,” Giger said in a 1979 interview with Starlog magazine. “If they like my work they are creative … or they are crazy.”
Born in the south-eastern Swiss town of Chur, he trained as an industrial designer because his father insisted that he learn a proper trade.
His mother Melli, to whom he showed a lifelong devotion, encouraged her son’s passion for art, despite his unconventional obsession with death and sex that found little appreciation in 1960s rural Switzerland. The host of one of his early exhibitions was reportedly forced to wipe the spit of disgusted neighbours off the gallery windows every morning.
A collection of his early work, “Ein Fressen fuer den Psychiater” – “A Feast for the Psychiatrist” — used mainly ink and oil, but Giger soon discovered the airbrush and pioneered his own freehand technique. He also created sculptures, preferably using metal, styrofoam and plastic.
Giger’s vision of a human skull encased in a machine appeared on the cover of “Brain Salad Surgery,” a 1973 album by the rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Along with his design for Debbie Harry’s solo album, “Koo Koo” (1981), it featured in a 1991 Rolling Stone magazine list of the top 100 album covers of all time.
The image of a brooding, mysterious artist was nurtured by Giger working only at night, keeping his curtains permanently drawn and dressing mainly in black — a habit he acquired while working as a draftsman because it made Indian ink stains stand out less on his clothes.
While his work was commercially successful, critics derided it as morbid kitsch. His designs were exhibited more frequently in “Alien” theme bars, short-lived Giger museums and at tattoo conventions than in established art galleries.
In 1998, Giger acquired the Chateau St. Germain in Gruyeres and established the H R Giger Museum.
Giger was pleased that his idea of machines with human skin became a popular motif in body art.
“The greatest compliment is when people get tattooed with my work, whether it’s done well or not,” he told Seconds magazine in 1994. “To wear something like that your whole life is the largest compliment someone can pay to you as an artist.”
Details on survivors and funeral plans were not immediately available.