James Rizzi was an American pop artist based in New York City. His unique style incorporated bright colors and bold outlines with fantastical anthropomorphic objects that frequently smiled out at the viewer. He experimented with combining 2D and 3D mediums to create layered lithographs that popped out of the page.

  • James Rizzi Biography
  • Are James Rizzi Prints Worth Much?
  • Famous James Rizzi Paintings and Artwork
  • How to Sell James Rizzi Art

Who was James Rizzi?

James Rizzi (1950-2011) was an American pop artist born on October 5, 1950 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he first developed his unique style of 3D printmaking. 

In 1975, Rizzi moved to the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan and began selling his art at outdoor markets in Washington square and elsewhere around the city. His work eventually achieved worldwide popularity, especially in Germany and Japan.

Over the course of his career, James Rizzi was invited to create designs for many influential projects, including a series of china for Rosenthal, a limited edition NYC metro card, a series of German postage stamps, three New Beetles for Volkswagen, the shell of a Boeing 757, and many more. His most high profile commission came in 1996, when James Rizzi was the official artist of the Olympic summer games in Atlanta, Georgia, and created a series of paintings which were displayed during the opening ceremony.

Rizzi died on December 26, 2011 in New York City at age 61 from a heart condition. He was remembered by friends and family as an outgoing and optimistic man. 

  • Born/Died: October 5, 1950 – December 26, 2011
  • Nationality: American
  • Category: Pop art
  • Related artists: Andy Warhol, Charles Fazzino, Roy Lichtenstein

What Art Style is James Rizzi Known For?

James Rizzi is best known for his colorful and imaginative paintings and prints, which drew more from his imagination than real life subjects. Like other pop artists, he used bright contrasting colors and solid lines in his work to make vibrant, eye-catching designs. His images often captured a sense of childlike wonder and happiness, with subjects like buildings, suns and moons, and animals often smiling out at the viewer.

James Rizzi: 3D Art

While studying art at the University of Florida, James Rizzi developed one of his trademark techniques, which involved hand coloring a silkscreen print, then attaching additional colored sheets to it using foam cut outs to create a three dimensional work. Many of his most famous works in this style are cityscapes depicting a highly colorful and fantastical New York City, complete with anthropomorphic skyscrapers smiling down on the streets below.

James Rizzi: Pop Art

Like many pop artists, James Rizzi focused on relatively simple techniques depicting colorful and cluttered designs with bold outlines. Besides his paintings and prints, Rizzi was commissioned to create many 2d and 3d designs for various companies and organizations.

Although he lived in New York City most of his life, Germany became the largest and most reliable market for James Rizzi’s art. It was here that he created some of his most ambitious projects, including designing the exterior of an office block in Saxony called the “Happy Rizzi House”, as well as the dome of a shopping mall in Oberhausen, Germany. 

What Mediums Did James Rizzi Use?

Rizzi started his career creating predominantly hand painted silk screen prints, oftentimes incorporating 3D elements. Later in life, he created more oil on canvas paintings. Besides his original pieces, Rizzi created a huge number of designs to adorn everything from teddy bears to airplanes. 

How Much Are James Rizzi Paintings Worth?

Original works by James Rizzi have sold at auction for anywhere between $2 and $100,000+, although the average price for a Rizzi original piece is around $1,000-$5,000. The highest price ever achieved for a Rizzi piece at auction was $134,620 for the acrylic on canvas painting “My City is Now Your City” in 2022. 

Objects with Rizzi designs, such as Rosenthal china or German postage stamps, can also vary greatly in price depending on the rarity and quality of the item, although many limited edition Rizzi print items can expect to be sold for between $50 and $300.

  • Historical auction sales range: $2-$133,455
  • Average auction estimate for prints: $50-$300
  • Average auction estimate for original paintings:  $1,000-$5,000

Have your James Rizzi artwork valued by experts with Revere Auctions appraisal services.

What Determines The Value of James Rizzi Art?

Rizzi personally produced thousands of paintings and other art pieces during his lifetime, and contributed designs to a huge range of products in the US, Germany, and elsewhere. A few major factors can help point to the potential value of a Rizzi art object.

  • Medium: Rizzi’s acrylic or oil on canvas pieces tend to be the most valuable compared to works on paper or other media. 
  • Size: Rizzi’s larger pieces are generally the most valuable. His larger works are often richly detailed and highly colorful. 
  • Rarity: One of a kind pieces are typically worth more than those produced as a limited series. Pieces personally produced by Rizzi are more valuable than those which incorporate prints of his designs. 

Valuable James Rizzi Paintings, Prints, and Artwork

Here is a sample of some of James Rizzi’s popular series of lithographs and other prints. Most were released in series of 100 to 500 and may contain 3D cutout elements.

Take the A Train to Harlem (1989)

A limited edition 3D lithograph of a train passing in front of a colorful cityscape.

  • Estimate: $2,100
  • Result: $9,100

Kitty Cocktail (1994)

A limited edition print on paper showing two cats drinking cocktails in front of two cat-faced skyscrapers.

  • Estimate: $2,500
  • Result: $2,500

Soaking Up the Sun (1995)

A vibrant 3D silkscreen print of a group of green cacti smiling under a happy desert sun.

Magical Play (1996)

A richly detailed 3D collage print that combines a wide variety of Rizzi’s common subjects including buildings, people, hearts, cars, and animals.

  • Estimate: $1,000
  • Result: $1,150

How to Identify a James Rizzi Signature

James Rizzi signed his name in capital print letters as either “JAMES RIZZI” or “J. RIZZI”. For his paintings, he would sign and date the back of the piece and occasionally add a short message or sketch as well. His most common sketches were of himself or a flying bird. 

For his prints, he would sign and date the bottom front in pencil on the left of the title of the piece. To the right of the title he would write the series number, such as 234/350.

How Can I Sell My James Rizzi Paintings and Art?

James Rizzi was a prolific artist, creating thousands of original paintings and prints in the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s. In addition, he collaborated with dozens of brands and organizations to create limited edition prints on objects such as postage stamps, toys, dishes, and more. While some individuals list their Rizzi pieces on online shopping sites, going through an auction house will often yield better results. An appraisal from a trusted auction house can help you determine the value of your piece, as well as the best method to sell the item.

James Rizzi consignment and acquisition services are available through Revere Auctions’  extensive access to more auction platforms than any other home in America.

Revere Auctions Sells Your James Rizzi Art

Revere Auctions has expert experience selling James Rizzi art at auction for competitive prices. Our experts at Revere Auctions are ready to help you with any stage of your art journey, whether you are looking for an estimate of value, a USPAP certified appraisal, art restoration, or an effortless way to sell your art. We advertise our sales on more auction platforms than any other auction house in America, and regularly achieve record prices for our objects. If you are interested in selling with us, please reach out for a free online appraisal of your piece today.

Discover Works From More Artists Like James Rizzi

Here is a collection of a few additional artists with similar styles to James Rizzi.

Andy Warhol

One of America’s best known pop artists who created bold, vibrant designs of common objects.

Roy Lichtenstein

An American pop artist that specialized in parodies of famous artworks.

Charles Fazzino

Another NYC based artist who makes highly detailed, often 3D graphics of New York City and other major cities.