Book Review: Mythologies for the Future – Swiss artist HR Giger (1940–2014) is most famous for his creation of the space monster in Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror sci-fi film Alien, which earned him an Oscar. In retrospect, this was just one of the most popular expressions of Giger’s biomechanical arsenal of creatures, which consistently merged hybrids of human and machine into images of haunting power and dark psychedelia.
The visions drew on demons of the past, as well as evoking mythologies for the future. Above all, they gave expression to the collective fears and fantasies of his age: fear of the atom, of pollution and wasted resources, and of a future in which our bodies depend on machines for survival.
Begun shortly before the artist’s unexpected death, this SUMO-sized Art Edition pays homage to Giger’s unique vision. It shows the complete story of Giger’s life and art, his sculptures, film works, and iconic album covers as well as the heritage left in his own artist’s museum and self-designed bar in the Swiss Alps. In an in-depth essay, Giger scholar Andreas J Hirsch plunges into the themes of Giger’s oeuvre and world, while an extensive artist biography draws on contemporary quotes and Giger’s own writings.
The volume is presented with the photogravure Gebärmaschine (Second state), showing armed babies loaded into an at once intrauterine and revolver-like space. The image is one of Giger’s most important motifs, revised and revisited continually between 1964 and 1967. This particular version was etched in 1965 and has never been printed before.
The accompanying ready-to-hang relief cast from an original polyester sculpture created by Giger in 1964. It combines two of the big interests of the artist’s early career: tachist painting (the European version of Abstract Expressionism, often characterized by calligraphic brushstrokes) and interior design. His abstract painting and design models in polyester come together in this fascinating piece, where skeletal forms already show promise of the gruesome creations of his later oeuvre.
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