In this comprehensive retrospective devoted to HR Giger, who was born in 1940 in Chur, Switzerland, Kunsthaus Wien
takes a fresh look at the works of a controversial artist who, more than almost anyone else, has had a far-reaching influence on pop culture and cyberculture. The exhibition is on display until June 26, 2011.
The exhibition focuses on the painter and sculptor HR Giger, who not only has achieved world fame as the creator of the film creature "Alien", which earned him an Oscar, but at the same time has produced a richly varied artistic oeuvre that is unmatched for its visionary power and disturbing intensity.
HR Giger is an artist of visions, who has depicted the collective fears of a humanity faced with the threat of nuclear destruction and the mechanisation of life in archetypal images created in his distinctive biomechanical style. In these visions, he has, on the one hand, captured a characteristic feeling of the 1960s and, on the other hand, anticipated later discussions about the "cyborg" or cybernetic organism, a being composed of a combination of human and mechanical parts. The present retrospective, which includes both famous and hitherto unknown works, follows the development of HR Giger's biomechanical motifs.
HR Giger is a magician of dreams, whose art probes the most deeply hidden layers of the subconscious and penetrates to the abysses of all that is nightmarish and demonic. Accordingly, the exhibition attempts to show how the dream is brought to artistic fruition in HR Giger's works, which traverse the entire compass of the realm of dreams, from visions to nightmares.
Taking HR Giger's "Necronomicon" cycle, inspired by the author H.P. Lovecraft, as a point of departure, the exhibition presents paintings, graphic art and sculptures that revolve around two symbol systems powerfully associated with foretelling the future: the "Zodiak Fountain", representative of an astrological view of the world, and the "Baphomet Tarot", an artistic reinterpretation of the latter old fortune-telling instrument.
Three striking female figures that appear in HR Giger's work, the actress Li Tobler, who is one of his muses, the singer Debbie Harry, and the hybrid female Sil from the film "Species", are presented in the exhibition in the context of the development history of the works devoted to them: artistic projects of the 1960s and 1970s, commissioned works for pop bands, and designs for the film. The exhibition also shows how HR Giger developed his title figure for Ridley Scott's film "Alien" out of his "Necronomicon" cycles.
Running through HR Giger's entire oeuvre, like two closely entwined threads, are the themes of sexuality and death. A special section of the exhibition entitled "Eros and Thanatos" traces this existential tension field through almost all the creative phases of the artist.
The retrospective presents renowned key works created by HR Giger over a period of half a century alongside works that have never been exhibited before, and thereby offers insights into his technique and his unique aesthetic approach. The exhibition places important motifs from HR Giger's works in the context of artists and images that have particularly inspired him, for example Arnold Bucklin's "Toteninsel" or the drawings of Alfred Kubin. Documentary films about HR Giger, homages to him by artists such as Salvador Dalí and Günther Brus, and a section with documentary material about his work methods round off this retrospective.