News: Stuttgart, Germany
December 30, 2011 by staff
The New York Daily News reports that James Rizzi (1950-2011), died peacefully in his sleep at his SoHo studio. Although the news was only announced today by Rizzi’s managers Art 28 GmbH & Co. KG, based in Stuttgart, Germany, the artist is said to have died on Monday December 26. The Gothamist reports that he died of a heart condition.
A statement posted on James Rizzi’s website reads:
“It’s with great distress and sorrow that we have to announce the death of James Rizzi. The world famous pop artist died peacefully in his sleep in his studio in SoHo, New York, the night after Christmas. His sudden and unexpected death comes as a shock to family, friends, and collectors alike… He was in the middle of preparing for new projects when death struck him.”
Rizzi was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended the University of Florida, Gainesville. It was at university where he developed a unique style of art, adding a 3D effect to cartoon-ish images.
Rizzi was involved in painting, architecture and graphics. The BBC notes that his work was regarded sufficiently high for him to appointed official artist for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and at the 1997 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and the official poster artist for the 1998 FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup (soccer) in France.
Rizzi’s works of art were varied and widespread. As the website Seatlle Pi recounts, some of Rizzi works included designing the cover of the Tom Tom Club’s first album and some of their early music videos (the Tom Tom Club are two members of the former band Talking Heads: Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz perhaps best known for the song “Genius Of Love“).
Other creations, as noted by The Salt Lake Tribune, were an entire house in Germany (the Rizzi-House in Braunschweig, northern Germany); German postage stamps and a tourist guide. Rizzi also developed a number of images for advertising including Volkswagen Beetles and Japanese train. James Rizzi also created a limited-edition of the MetroCard subway fare-paying system for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Rizzi works generally fall into the genre “Pop Art”. Pop Art is an art movement which emerged in the 1950s. It uses images of mass media, advertising, comics and consumer products, often using bright and vibrant images. The most well known and influential exponent was arguably Andy Warhol (1928-87).
The Independent in their obituary state that Rizzi’s popularity was highest in Germany. So much that a school in Duisburg was named after him in 2010.
CBC News quotes Rizzi’s agent Alexander Lieventhal as saying: “with his art, what you see is what you get. Any child can look at it and understand what he’s trying to convey: a celebration of life.”
Certainly James Rizzi’s works were different and the art world and contemporary culture have lost a unique artist.
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