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HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century

By H.R. Giger and Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D.

Foreword by Claudia Müller-Eberling

Observations from Modern Consciousness Researc

Stanislav Grof, the pioneer of consciousness research, interprets HR Giger’s visionary world for the first time from the perspective of transpersonal psychology in this unique essay. To date, HR Giger’s images have been described in myriad variations, but never before within the context of the social relevance of his art. With his interpretation of the claustrophobic, nightmarish aspects of Giger’s art, Grof allows for a new, more profound understanding of the overall work.

“I don’t know anybody else who has so accurately portrayed the soul of modern humanity. A few decades from now, when they talk about the 20th century, they will think of Giger.”
– Filmmaker Oliver Stone

Distributed by Synergetic Press in North America and Europe (excluding Switzerland, Germany and Austria). Published by Nachtschatten Verlag.


H.R. Giger


H.R. Giger was born in the small city of Chur, Switzerland in February, 1940. Giger grew up in a rather normal, middle class family environment. His father was the local pharmacist. When he was quite young his father received a human skull as a professional promotion from a pharmaceutical firm, and the young Hansruedi was taken spellbound.

He fast developed a fascination with all things dark and strange, and later found inspiration from postcards and magazine photos featuring the works of Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau. Giger’s mother Melli was a great encouragement to him, though she did not always understand the strange fascinations of her young son. As a pre-teen, Giger would invite neighborhood friends over to watch his presentation of ‘Ghost Train’ rides, and other portrayals of the dark fantastic.

After high school (gymnasium) Giger went on to study architecture and industrial design at Zurich’s School of Applied Arts. He soon expanded his network of friends to include those in involved in various aspects of the arts, and began drawing creatively.

In 1966 Giger began work as an interior designer, and at the same time, completed some early paintings. In 1968 Giger began working exclusively as an artist, as well as filmmaker. Giger has his first posters published in 1969 and also has some of his first exhibitions outside of Zurich.

Giger begins using the airbrush in the next decade, and his works take on a unique otherworldly quality. He grows to be considered the leading airbrush artist in the world and proved that fine art could be produced via the device. Working in large formats, Giger’s paintings are meticulously rendered and possess a blend of erotic mystery and alien elegance.

In 1978 Giger began work on the film ALIEN, and ended up sculpting most of the creatures and sets. In 1980 the artist is awarded an Oscar for his stunning work on the classic film. Recently, he provided designs for Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS.

Giger began work on The H.R. Giger Museum in the middle 1990s and this continues today, as the medieval castle in Gruyere, Switzerland is being continually expanded. The museum houses Giger’s personal collection of art from around the world, as well as a substantial collection of his own paintings and sculptural work.

H.R. Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century
Book Companion Website

H.R. Giger Museum

H.R. Giger Facebook Page

Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D.


Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D., is a psychiatrist with more than fifty years experience researching the healing and transformative potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. His groundbreaking theories influenced the integration of Western science with his brilliant mapping of the transpersonal dimension. On October 5, 2007 Dr. Grof received the prestigious VISION 97 award granted by the Foundation of Dagmar and Vaclav Havel in Prague.

He is one of the founders and chief theoreticians of Transpersonal Psychology and received an Honorary Award for major contributions to and development of the field of Transpersonal Psychology from the Association for Transpersonal Psychology in 1993. Dr. Grof is also the founding President of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA) and was its President for many years. He has organized large international conferences throughout the world and continues to lecture and teach professional training programs in Holotropic Breathwork and transpersonal psychology.

Currently, Dr. Grof is Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness in San Francisco, CA, and at Wisdom University in Oakland, CA.

Dr. Grof was born in 1931 in Prague where he received an M.D. from Charles University and a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine) from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. Between 1960 and 1967, he was Principal Investigator in a psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

In the United States, Dr. Grof served as Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. He was also Scholar-in-Residence at Esalen Institute.

Dr. Grof’s extensive research includes experiential psychotherapy using psychedelics and non-drug techniques, especially the holotropic breathwork (a method he developed with his wife Christina), alternative approaches to psychoses, understanding and treatment of psychospiritual crises (“spiritual emergencies”), the implications of recent developments in quantum-relativistic physics, biology, brain research, and other avenues of the emerging scientific paradigm, for psychiatric theory and consciousness studies.

Among his publications are over 150 papers in professional journals and many books including Beyond the Brain, LSD Psychotherapy, Psychology of the Future, The Cosmic Game, and the newly-released When the Impossible Happens and The Ultimate Journey.

Recently, he wrote the essay to that provides a psychoanalytic framework for understanding the work of H.R. Giger.




Additional information

Weight 3.25 lbs
Dimensions 9.5 × 9.5 × 1 in
Pages 248


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In this remarkable book, the psychoanalyst Stanislav Grof presents the artwork of H.R. Giger, the renowned Swiss painter, sculptor, and set designer. The bilingual format broadens the book’s audience, but the paintings need no descriptive words — they speak for themselves and render the depths of the psyche in a way that is both illuminating and terrifying. An astute reader need only to study this artwork to understand why human beings are capable of creative illumination on the one hand, and fomenting terror on the other.
–Stanley Krippner, Professor of Psychology, Saybrook University (from

Giger’s rich and intense paintings are also replete with demonic, sexual, scatological, and claustrophobic motifs as well as sexual organs and appendages, laboring naked women and stricken, aggressive fetuses. Grof’s hypothesis is that these combinations of themes in Giger’s work are, rather than a random juxtaposition of images such as those found in surrealism, reflections of a deep and consistent experiential logic which is meaningfully related to the psychological death-rebirth process. Giger’s art depicts the kinds of “dark night of the soul” experiences that routinely occur during the process of inner psychospiritual transformation. Individuals engaged in deep and systematic forms of self-exploration, such as psychedelic therapy or holotropic breathwork, encounter the same elements portrayed in Giger’s paintings at certain points in their inner journeys.

His research further suggests that the perinatal layer of the psyche, so evocatively portrayed in Giger’s art, is responsible for many emotional and psychosomatic problems in human life. “Our self-definition and attitudes toward the world in our postnatal life are heavily contaminated by this constant reminder of the vulnerability, inadequacy, and weakness that we experienced at birth. In a sense, although we have been born anatomically, we have not caught up with this fact emotionally.”

Giger’s rich offerings, so gracefully interpreted by Grof, can be seen as alluring invitations to humanity for a deeper self-knowledge, calling us to face our disowned shadow material and, in doing so, reclaim the spiritual dimensions of existence. This foundational book, a collaboration by two masters, is a must-read for all serious students of art and the creative process, depth psychology and psychopathology, history, self-exploration, spirituality, and transcendent states.

Renn Butler on May 8, 2014 (comment edited for length)

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