GENEVA (AFP) - Swiss surrealist designer Hans Ruedi Giger, who won an Oscar for the monster he created for Ridley Scott's film Alien, has died at the age of 74, media reported.
He died yesterday afternoon in hospital from injuries sustained in a fall, Swiss public broadcaster SRF reported, citing sources close to his family.
Better known as HR Giger, he was born in 1940 into a family of chemists in the small eastern Swiss town of Chur. He moved to Zurich in 1962 to study architecture and industrial design.
He quickly turned to art, producing first mainly ink drawings and oil paintings that formed the basis for his first solo exhibition four years later.
But it was his discovery of the airbrush that led to the unique freehand painting style that characterises many of his most famous works.
His distinctive style shot him to global fame when he created the Alien for Ridley Scott's 1979 iconic film, with help from Carlo Rambaldi, creator of the E.T. character from the Steven Spielberg movie.
The nightmarish skeletal monster, with its elongated metallic head and mouth filled with vampire-sharp teeth, earned him an Oscar in 1980 for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
His designs were also centrepieces in a range of other well-known films, including Poltergeist II, directed by Brian Gibson, David Fincher's Alien3, and Roger Donaldson's 1995 horror movie Species.
He also gained international recognition for his often dark Giger sculptures, as well as for his paintings and furniture.
In 1998, the HR Giger Museum opened in the Swiss town of Gruyere, becoming home to the biggest collection of his works.
The museum, run by his wife Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger, also houses examples from his vast private art collection, counting works by the likes of Salvador Dali, Dado and Friedrich Kuhn. In recent years, a number of international museums, including in Paris, Prague and Vienna, have also presented retrospectives of his work.