H.R. Giger (one of the primary designers for the film Alien) died yesterday: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/h-r-giger-surrealist-artist-and-alien-designer-dead-at-74-20140513
I'm no art aficionado, but in my opinion, Giger was one of the best visual artists of our times. Ever since I was introduced to him at a young age I've felt strongly connected to his work, which now seems to me to be a natural progression from artists like Bosch and Dali, and which are powerfully related to the grim works of Beksiński. His imagery typically involved flesh and mechanics melded together in horrific, fetishistic ways. Sex, procreation, penetration, religion, and deformation were frequent concerns in his work, as was the ever-encroaching dark. I'm still not certain as to why I remain so drawn to his art--I think it's probably because of how unsafe it is. I see no compromise in him, and very little beauty. He painted with shadow, and his best work was pregnant with breathless horror. But it was also incredibly enticing. I wanted to know what his imagined landscapes felt like under my feet. I wanted to hear what his beautiful, tortured Li would say to those who were willing to listen. Like Lovecraft before him, he breathed vibrant life into horror--but also like Lovecraft before him, his work has become so ingrained into the popular culture that people now look over it without batting an eye. Cthulhu has been reduced to stuffed animals and t-shirts, as has Giger's xenomorph.
Do the man a favor. Separate yourself from your friends and family for an evening, turn off the lights, and get your hands on a copy of Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien. Its fleshy, psychosexual horror has never been equaled, and decades of increasingly bad sequels have not lessened the impact of the original film, no matter how much you think they have. And spare a thought, if you can, for the man from whose imagination this beast sprung, and for his family and the people that loved him. Giger was haunted as a child by a nightmare about thin stairs that descended into terminal blackness. I think he's been descending those stairs for his whole life, and reporting his findings back to us. Now he's reached the bottom--and the rest of us aren't too far behind him.