James Rizzi was an American pop artist best known for his childlike, colorful, and three-dimensional art. Largely active from the seventies till the early 2000s, Rizzi was the official artist for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.


James Rizzi was born in 1950 in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Miami Dade College before transferring to the University of Florida. He developed his unique multi-media, sculptural style while at university. There he combined his painting, printmaking, and sculpting coursework to create three-dimensional, hand-colored and printed works. Rizzi stuck to the multi-media, three-dimensional style after his graduation in 1974.

The following year, Rizzi moved back to New York and began exhibiting in outdoor art shows in Brooklyn Heights and Washington Square. He sold pictures outside the Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and made a 45-meter mural for Eric’s Bar and Grill.

Rizzi participated in a national print exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1976. His small-scale graphics drew the attention of the art world and soon he was commissioned to work on several projects in Germany and Japan, including art for television films, vehicles, dictionary covers, restaurant menus, and puzzles.

Rizzi also designed album covers for artists like the Tom Tom Club and Dee Dee King. In 1996, he designed the Olympic opening ceremony’s paintings. He was the first living artist to be commissioned to design a series of postage stamps in Germany, and in 2008 a retrospective was held in Mainz’s Rhineland-Palatinate, exhibiting over nine hundred of Rizzi’s artworks.

James Rizzi’s Work

Rizzi’s signature three-dimensional style used a silkscreen print that was hand-colored and attached to cut out shapes with adhesive foam material. He added acrylic paintings to his oeuvre as he grew older, and took inspiration from multiple artistic styles and periods.

The cityscape and daily life of New York featured heavily in Rizzi’s work. His New York paintings, including pieces like Living Near the Water, Crazy New York People, and Cupid Does NYC, depicted Manhattan as a wild, lurid landscape with anthropomorphized buildings, sea monsters, UFOs, and crowds of people.

Rizzi’s larger body of work, however, was varied. In the nineties, he designed porcelain vases and containers for Rosenthal and a boxing jacket for the champion Henry Maske. Rizzi regularly worked in the sports world; in addition to his work at the 1996 Olympic Games, he was the official artist of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan and the 1998 FIFA Football World Cup in France.

In Germany, Rizzi even worked on buildings like the Oberhausen shopping mall and  the Happy Rizzi House, an office complex in Braunschweig. He produced designs for the exterior of a Boeing 757 plane and three promotional Volkswagen Beetles.

James Rizzi in the Market

James Rizzi’s 3D pop art remains popular today. His primary markets remain the US, Germany, and Japan. The prices for his art have increased since his death in 2011. Works like his posters, china, sculptures, and graphic design material sell well in the international art market, while the most popular Rizzi works are his depictions of New York in multiple media.

Appraise and Sell Works by James Rizzi

If you have any works by James Rizzi, get in touch with our experts at Revere Auctions. If you would like to sell your Rizzi pieces, you can auction them at our location in St. Paul, Minnesota. We also offer our services online.

You can contact us anytime for a free auction estimate if you want to sell Rizzi’s work. We have a very simple process. After you send us the photos of the work, our experts will take a look, analyze, and provide you an estimate of the amount the artwork is likely to reach at auction.  

If you need an appraisal for Rizzi’s work, we provide a certified appraisal report that can be used for estate taxes, donations, and insurance coverage. Our appraisals are compliant with Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and are accepted by insurance companies, charity agencies, and the IRS.