H.R. Giger is a weird, creepy dude. You don’t create works of art with titles like “Penis Landscape” without being at least a little bit unusual. But you probably got that from his legendary designs and special effects creations for Ridley Scott’s classic Alien and his larger body of work. One of the modern classics of science fiction and horror, the film wouldn’t have had nearly the same atmospheric impact without Giger’s contributions to both the creatures and sets. While that is what the Swiss surrealist is most widely known for, he had a long, illustrious career before passing away this past May at the age of 74 after a fall.
Giger was a prolific painter and sculptor, but was also something of a photographer as well, documenting much of his life on film, including a newly released collection of personal Polaroid photos. They come from a new book called H.R. Giger: Polaroids, and run the gamut from behind the scenes views of his works, to pictures of his pieces in progress, to manipulated self-portraits, and they all fall on the strange side of things. These pictures offer up a unique glimpse into the dark, bizarre world of Giger’s work and mind, and it is just a odd and outlandish as you would expect.
Giger was born in 1940 in the Swiss city of Chur, to a chemist father who viewed art as a fruitless endeavor and wanted his child to become a pharmacist instead. In 1962, Giger moved to Zurich where he studied architecture and industrial design, elements that would go on to figure prominently into his future works.
Aside from all of the Alien films, Giger also worked on numerous prominent motion pictures, including Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unproduced adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, Batman Forever—he created and alternate Batmobile that wasn’t used in the film—and even something called Killer Condom. A recording artist in his own right, Giger teamed up with a wide variety of musicians, especially hard rock and heavy metal artists like Celtic Frost, Danzig, and Carcass. Korn frontman Jonathan Davis even commissioned a custom-made microphone stand for live performances. Giger’s most notorious endeavor in this realm came when Bay Area punk band The Dead Kennedys put copies of the aforementioned “Penis Landscape” with their album Frankenchrist. This led to a 1985 obscenity trial that landed singer Jello Biafra on an episode of Oprah.