TWO VISIONARIES HAVE LEFT US
RIP H. R. GIGER and PATRICK WOODROFFE
The world of the fantastic lost two giants these past few days. Artist/Sculptor Patrick Woodroffe passed away on the 10th of May and Artist/Sculptor H. R. Giger left us yesterday; the 12th of May. And it’s sad irony that both men were born in 1940.
Both Mr. Giger and Mr. Woodroffe left behind a body of work that affected millions of genre fans of art, literature, and film. In comparison, the styles of these two artists stood across from each other as direct opposites. Giger’s was dark and nightmarish while Woodroffe’s was light and tended towards surrealism.
Mr. Giger’s style and subject matter were so brilliantly and grotesquely unique that once seen could never be forgotten. He managed to give a face to our worst nightmares. Like the proverbial car wreck; the viewer is unsettled and wants to look away and discovers, to their dismay, that they can’t. Giger managed to give his nightmarish visions a submerged beauty that only rose to the surface with repeated viewings. Three words described Mr. Giger’s leitmotif ; Sex, Death, and Bio-Machinery. Or as he termed it, Bio-Mechanics. Mr. Giger first reached world wide public acclaim with his conceptual and creature design for the film Alien.
If it had not been for the “Face” that Mr. Giger put on the film, Alien would have been remembered as simply an adequate “haunted house in space” film. But thanks to Mr. Giger’s visionary conceptual work, the film has been raised to the status of one of the all time great visonary horror films. I think that it’s a huge tribute to the man’s talent and the mark that he left on popular culture ,that millions of people who know nothing of the man will still immediately recognize his work and be fascinated with it. His 1977 art book Necronomicon, which convinced Ridley Scott to hire him for Alien, has sold millions of copies and it’s companion volume, Necronomicon II, is still in print today.
Mr. Giger was the type of artist whose sort only appears once in life time and one who can never be imitated or copied. His passing has left a great emptiness that will , at least in our lifetimes, never be filled.
Thank you Mr. Giger for giving us such terrible and beautiful nightmares.
Patrick Woodroffe might not have had the world wide recognition that Mr. Giger had, though he more than deserved it, he still left a mark on the world of fantastic art that will be with us for generations to come. Where Giger was a darkness and horror that simultaneously fascinated and disgusted, Mr. Woodroffe was lightness and invitation. Mr. Woodroffe was best known for his paperback and album covers back during the 1970s and 1980s. His paintings were bright, colorful and left us wanting more. Once one of his covers was seen it was al but impossible to not want to buy the book and hope that the contents lived up to the promise that Mr. Woodroffe’s cover made. Even a lame piece of 1920s pulp SF like Ralph Milne Farley’s Radio Planet took on an extra level of wonder that was supplied by Mr. Woodroffe’s art work alone. All it took was one look at his covers on some of the 1970s Abraham Merritt titles and you just had to have that book. Even to this day I’ll take these editions down off of my book shelf just to admire the covers and reminisce on the promises they held al those years ago when i wore a younger and less cynical man’s clothes. Mr. Woodroffe’s art was bright, insanely detailed, surreal and some of the most beautiful visions that a fan could ever hope for.
Thank you Mr. Woodroffe for adding so much beauty to the world. you will be sorely missed by us all.
And I hope that those of you who are reading this will enjoy the samples of each man’s art that are posted below.
And whether these works are new to you or old familiar friend, take a moment to thank each of these wonderful artists for enriching our lives dreams and nightmares.