Colorful and spirited, James Rizzi’s work displays the artist’s fascination with contemporary urban themes. His three-dimensional constructions have been acclaimed for their bold and detailed portrayals of everyday people and places. Whether enjoying a night on the town, sweating out rush hour on the highway or simply enjoying the changing seasons amidst the urban landscape, James Rizzi’s friends and neighbors face life’s joys and challenges with irrepressible optimism and humor.
Born in Brooklyn, New York James Rizzi studied art at the University of Florida (Gainesville) where he began experimenting with painting, printmaking and sculpting. His goal was to combine all three techniques in his work, an aim finally realized in his now well-known 3-D constructions. Duplicate images, carefully cut out and attached, each one above its counterpart, create richly textured editions through a truly striking use of traditional printmaking techniques. In his painting as well, James Rizzi often makes three-dimensional images, many of which incorporate moveable magnetic elements.
Since his 1974 debut in The Brooklyn Museum’s ongoing series of print exhibitions, James Rizzi has been honored with one-person shows throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. A major retrospective exhibit of his work opened in March, 1996 at the International Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland. Several additional museum exhibitions took place in 1996, including the University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida), Palm Beach Community College (Florida), Hakone Open Air Museum (Hakone, Japan) and the Pusan Hyundai Art Gallery (Seoul, Korea). Major exhibits in 1997 included the Center for the Arts (Vero Beach, Florida) and the Kunst Museum Limburg (Limburg, Germany).
In addition, James Rizzi has designed record album covers, CD’s, stage sets, animated videos for the rock group The Tom Tom Club, and was the subject of four films produced for Japanese TV in 1987, 1994, 1996 and 1997. Two major books were published in 1988 and 1992 about James Rizzi’s art and life in the United States. In the spring of 1996, the International Olympic Museum released the James Rizzi catalogue, Dreams of Sport, with forward by Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International Olympic Committee, and text by George Plimpton. Two more publications in 1996 were The New York Paintings published by Prestel-Verlag, Germany, and James Rizzi - Mein New York Kochbuch, Rezepte von Peter Bührer published by Mary Hahn Verlag, Germany. This was followed by another Mary Hahn Verlag publication in 1997, Christmas Cooking in New York. Other accomplishments in 1996 included Lufthansa Airlines’ unveiling of the Boeing 757 aircraft which James Rizzi was commissioned to design in celebration of the 40th anniversary of their subsidiary Condor Airlines. James Rizzi was commissioned to create a series of paintings commemorating the Opening Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and was selected to create images incorporating the sports included in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. In February, 1998 he was interviewed on WNBC-TV Weekend Today In New York to discuss his technique and his Olympic prints.
James Rizzi was designated the official artist for the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival held in Montreux, Switzerland in the summer of 1997. He was selected by RTL TV in Germany to design the artwork for their 24-hour TV marathon, We Help the Children, 1997, which included an interview with the Artist and an overview of his work. Bertelsmann BMG Ariola Media in Germany has released a limited edition 4-pack CD with artwork designed by the Artist, titled James Rizzi: Love, Fun, Day, Night.
In May, 1997 James Rizzi was honored in his birthplace by the President of The Borough of Brooklyn, City of New York, Howard Golden, who issued an official Proclamation proclaiming James Rizzi Day in Brooklyn at the unveiling of a retrospective of his work. In addition, James Rizzi also received a Proclamation from The City Council of New York, Council Member Herbert E. Berman, 46th District, honoring him for enriching the City of New York with his artistic contributions.
1998 brought more recognition and awards for James Rizzi. He was an invited artist to the prestigious World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was selected as an Official Artist for FIFA World Cup Soccer, France, and chosen by The United States Sports Academy in Alabama as the 1998 Sport Artist of the Year. The University of Florida awarded James Rizzi the 1998 Distinguished Alumnus Award at their annual Recognition Banquet for his outstanding support to the University’s School of Art and Art History. In the Fall, the city of Braunschweig, a neighboring city to Hannover, had a ground-breaking ceremony for the erection of a twin building designed by James Rizzi, the Rizzi-Happy-Haus, which upon completion will coincide with the celebration of Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany.
James Rizzi’s original painting, Life Inside the Big Apple, inspired the 1998 stage production, All About Eve - And What About Adam by TollWood Productions, a private organization based in Munich, Germany that organizes festivals and produces theater, music and circus shows. The play utilized Rizzi’s image as the main theme of the story line. The painting was enlarged to a height of sixty feet and used as the background for the coming to life of the characters as they stepped out of the painting on to the stage. The cast featured well-known dancers, singers, acrobats, sports personalities and body builders.
In November, 1998 MAX Magazine in Germany featured James Rizzi’s art on the back cover of the magazine to launch the new Volkswagen Beetle Cars.
In December, 1998 James Rizzi painted and donated a commemorative painting and limited edition posters for a charity fund-raiser, the Jingle Ball Concert, held at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The concert was hosted by Z100, America’s most listened to radio station with nearly 2.6 million listeners, and featured veteran and new performers, including ‘N Sync, 98º, Shania Twain, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Eagle-Eye-Cherry and Boyz II Men.
The year 1999 began with James Rizzi entering into two contracts with Rosenthal China in Germany: to design a limited edition special vase in celebration of the new millennium in association with Frank Stella and Paul Giovanopoulos, and to design six objects for a Special Art Collection for the year 2000.
A true innovator, James Rizzi articulates through his art the influences and emotions experienced by us all. He is a universal artist who has found an enthusiastic following throughout the world.