James Rizzi Bio

James Rizzi, American (1950 - 2011)

James Rizzi was a Pop Street Artist born in Brooklyn, New York to a family with Irish and Italian roots..

James Rizzi studied art at the University of Florida (Gainesville), where he began experimenting with a style that incorporated three techniques, painting, printmaking and sculpture. His goal was to create artwork that was three-dimensional but not like freestanding traditional sculpture. His intricate works consisted of carefully cut-out and attached elements, which created a rich, busy composition. His subject was most often New York City and his imagery projected his childlike imagination transforming the city itself into something wonderfully unique.

The three-dimensionality gave James Rizzi's prints a sense of movement and playfulness. Looking at one of his creations is similar to looking at one of the great 20th Century surrealists like Dali, Miro or Klee (self noted influences for the artist). Viewers are attracted to his eye catching colorful quirky works because they are dense with detail and reflect the energy and life of all the diversity and human variety that is typical of New York City.

While making his name as a street artist, James Rizzi settled in the Soho district of Manhattan in 1975, where he spent the rest of his life. At this point in his career he reached his audience by participating in outdoor art shows in Brooklyn Heights and Washington Square, and sold pictures outside the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

James Rizzi participated in numerous one-man and group shows worldwide. Some of the other highlights of his career included his 1976 participation in the exhibition "Thirty Years of American Printmaking” at the Brooklyn Museum. In the early 80’s Rizzi designed the album cover artwork for the first album of the pop music band the Tom Tom Club and also created the animation for two of the bands music videos. In 1987, a Japanese television station produced a film about James Rizzi. He was the official artist for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He created a series of paintings of the opening ceremony that are now in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

There were a number of significant books published about James Rizzi throughout his career. In 1988, the first book about Rizzi was published: "James Rizzi - 3D Constructions". The second book about Rizzi was published in 1992 by Glenn O'Brien called "Rizzi". In 1996. an impressive monograph, "The New York Paintings", revealed Rizzi's passion for his native city. His last major book was in 2006 titled "James Rizzi. Artwork 1993-2006".

James Rizzi was a cheerful and highly sociable figure and frequently worked for children's and Aids charities. A real innovator, James Rizzi articulated through his art, the influences and emotions experienced by all who lived or visited Manhattan. His cityscapes reflected happy days and his trademark style is recognizable as any in the world.

James Rizzi passed just before New Years in 2011.


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