Superman Lives: Sylvain Despretz' Skullship concept art
for the unmade Superman Lives references Hochöfen (Blast Furnaces) by Bernd & Hilla Becher

leading from

Sylvain Despretz' Skullship (complete image but dark)

a) Sylvain Despretz says that he was "Trying to emulate the works of a photographer who shot pictures of gas factories" (Bernd & Hilla Becher: Hochöfen (Blast Furnaces). I had such a book with me at the time, you see" (Source: Jean Giraud Moebius Facebook page.  ( from this discussion thread at Jean Giraud Moebius

b) In the same statement, he was , he "was not in any way thinking about HR Giger's vagina-like tubular entrances " which thankfully I didn't assume either, assuming that he meant the three derelict ship entrances from Alien, I can't claim to know who thinks that he was, but I do make comparisons between this illustration and the work of Giger in other ways and I appreciate that conversing with people who are artists about his or her artwork from my angle can sometimes be a bit like trying to pull their back teeth out with a pair of pliers even if there isn't exactly much of a conversation going.

  • Sylvain Despretz: I am sure that you draw fascinating parallels between images, much like a psychiatrist looks for patterns, and I am sure that some of it makes for interesting hyperbole. But I have to say that it's easy to conclude you're not an artist yourself because if you were, you'd immediately understand that this "left-brain" approach to analyzing correspondences in relatively unrelated works doesn't resemble the way artists themselves usually approach their process of creation unless they are actively plagiarizing or paying homage. Of course, there are instances of unconscious "lifting" that also occur and must be taken into account, but for creative people, these musings are often a bit convoluted and labyrinthine: it's easy to wind up nowhere fast and be stuck, when we could instead do more creating
    I cannot speak for anybody else's work, but I have told you before regarding the Superman Lives/Brainiac ship that you are mistaken about my references: in that specific instance, I was not in any way thinking about HR Giger's vagina-like tubular entrances but rather, trying to emulate the works of a photographer who shot pictures of gas factories (Bernd & Hilla Becher: Hochöfen (Blast Furnaces). I had such a book with me at the time, you see. I know this is information that you don't really want to process, since you have a theory in search of a validation, but sometimes, things happened in ways that we are simply unwilling to conceive of. It doesn't always mean we're right.

    You're work seems academic, and I'm sure it has a value from that viewpoint, but as we knoa about art criticism, and the intellectualization of the creative process, one comes before, and the other behind. The map is not always the territory. 

    (Source: Jean Giraud Moebius Facebook group, January 13th 2019 (NB. I didn't compare his spacecraft to the entrances of Giger's Alien derelict ship, and I appreciate the photo that he sent along with this. (See K. for image of the gas factories), and am happy for Sylvain to have his view on the matter, whether it has anything to do with anything I'm writing about here and I suppose that I shouldn't take what Sylvain said to me personally, he might have something completely different to say about the subject next time equally interesting. Yes, please hurl another custard pie in my face!)

(Bernd & Hilla Becher: Hochöfen (Blast Furnaces).

c.i) In terms of these furnaces, at first nothing compares very well other than he stated what he was trying to do one can appreciate the similarity in the style of piping, I can not pin it down to pieces from any particular photograph and I am very thankful that he did present this image with information to me, even if I was not supposed to be interested in processing. I should say that the original uncoloured drawing is available on the internet only as a low definition image. Looking at the piping in the photograph, might invite one to want to creatively see things into them and develop it into all sorts of bizarre structures

c.ii) As time goes by reaching into late February 28th 2019, I could start to see how Moebius and Carlo Rambaldi had referenced a photo, the central bottom photograph which happened to be the Bernd and Hilla Becher,  Duisburg Bruckhausen, Ruhrgebiet Germany taken in 1995. Carlo Rambaldo had used it in a painting of his cinema creatures, transforming the framework and pipes into his King Kong gorilla and then Moebius appeared to have referenced the Rambaldi painting with this photograph in mind. So this spelled out the idea of a shared enthusiasm for the images of these curious structures.  

Bernd and Hilla Becher,  Duisburg Bruckhausen, Ruhrgebiet Germany 1995
c.iii) I have to say that Sylvain was the first person to show me the photographs in terms of a context that should make me take note. In the past people have compared the blast furnaces to things from HR Giger paintings, so whatever direction one tries to run from Giger with his biomechanics concept, it's hard to get too far when treading in his general territory which these design for a spaceship seems to tread.

Bernd and Hilla Becher, part of a pair of photos of Blast Furnaces in Ilsede and Hannover. 1984?
d) In terms of HR Giger's work, I might wonder if it's probably easy to not being able to help being like Giger, or Dali perhaps when being set with a task of this kind, and one can have ideas based upon their work without looking at their works again for years and people often find themselves creating images inspired in one way or another by these artists, but I would later notice that Giger's National Park painting which I would come to assume was being referenced by Sylvain Despretz appeared to show up in a piece of concept art done by Patrice Garcia for the Superman Lives project, so I continue to wonder.

Blast furnace next to Sylvain Despretz' skullship


  1. "Superman Lives: Sylvain Despretz' Skullship concept art for the unmade Superman Lives references Hochöfen (Blast Furnaces) by Bernd & Hilla Becher Originally" posted January 14th 2019 and then updated 3rd March 2019

  2. Ok enough with the skull ship it doesn't compare to the level of skill the other art repeatedly compared to just one would have been enough but beating a dead issue almost makes ...cringe did you write this yourself skull ship guy

    1. I think that this skullship design is a wonderful thing and finding out about those furnace pipe photos was a beautiful thing. One can look at those pipe photos and start to see where else it looks as if other artists have used them. Some people might find that inspiring for their own creativity in the future.

    2. Well, I can only hope that you appreciate this piece of artwork and whatever else the artist has drawn over the years

      I adore this skullship, it's an important piece I think. I'd like to think that there's more to be explored in it from different perspectives

      I like the way that one can draw something and find out afterwards that it connects with numerous other pieces, sometimes it can be done consciously and other times it can be done unconsciously. I've found myself doing it as well and I think that it happens in the artwork of many people.

      One man can cringe over my writeup about it and others can respond with a variety of other facial expressions. Perhaps someone else could have something of note to say about it, perhaps a few people could share significant ideas about it that seem to conflict with one another and I might find that interesting enough to post, and you could cringe at it at your leisure. I stick to public spaces on the internet, youtube videos and podcasts

      A recent realisation that came appears to be how this piece might compare with an illustration by Japanese illustrator Shimizu Seifu from around the turn of the last century, and Seifu's work seems to have absorbed Tenniel's work for Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland and its sequel, and bled in numerous artist's work through the twentieth century. I hadn't heard of Seifu at all before the other week and it was a godsend slapping me across the face as if it looked as if Ernst, Dali, Moebius, Giger, Villemot etc all somehow knew about this seemingly little known or almost forgotten artist.

      I'm sure that I would have loved to have seen this Skullship published properly in books but oddly this hasn't really happened. There's the black and white drawing of it in a book of illustrations by Sylvain Despretz but one can not open the pages out completely flat and I don't intend to pull the book apart to do that. If the Superman Lives artwork ever gets turned into a book, they might think more about how this piece is presented.

      I'm sure that every time I look at a painting or drawing or anything, I'm usually finding myself beating a dead horse to dust so it seems, but I shall just respect that my brain is doing something and not be critical of it. But it's the way I seem to work to draw creative inspiration myself.