A.G. Rizzoli © All Rights Reserved
In the San Francisco architecture firm where A.G. Rizzoli worked for nearly forty years, he was regarded merely as a competent draftsman. It is doubtful that any of his colleagues in the firm, his neighbors, or even his family, had any notion of the other side of Achilles Rizzoli, the imaginative, intuitive artist.
Rizzoli was born in Marin County, California in 1896, the youngest son in a family of five children, and lived most of his life in San Francisco. His father committed suicide in 1915, though his remains were not discovered until 1936, twenty one years later. Rizzoli shared a home with his mother, to whom he was devoted, until her death in 1937. He never married.
Rizzoli had little formal education, but from the ages of 16 to 19 he attended a poly-technical school, then honed his drafting skills as a member of the San Francisco Architecture Club. For ten years starting in 1923, he wrote short stories and novellas about the “boys” in the club. Finally, in 1933 he self-published The Colonnade, using the pen name “Peter Metermaid.”
From 1935 to 1944, Rizzoli produced a body of spectacular architectural renderings, in grand Beaux Arts style. Done in colored ink on rag paper, many of the drawings were intended as symbolic portraits of friends and family, depicting them as buildings. Five birthday tributes to his mother done during this period, (the Kathredals), are among his most elaborate architectural portraits.
Other drawings are plot plans for his fantasy “expeau” inspired by the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Rizzoli called his expeau Y.T.T.E., standing for “Yield To Total Elation.” The major units or buildings in the Y.T.T.E. comprise another series of drawings, and emblems, signs and elaborate Mother’s Day poems (to his dead mother) fall into a fourth group.
After an unproductive hiatus, a new project was begun in 1958. Large sheets of architectural vellum, some divided into eight sections, were filled with poetry, prose, architectural drawings, quotations, a commemoration of an event (the burning of a church, for instance, or the death of JFK), or some combination of these. These 350 sheets comprise the A.C.E. (Amte’s Celestial Extravaganza). Rizzoli made up his own language, replete with many symbolically loaded puns, anagrams and solecisms (“earchitecturally,” for example, or “Architecture Made To Entertain” — AMTE).
The drawings and writing document a life lived, in Rizzoli’s words, “in an unbelievably hermetically sealed spherical inalienable maze of light and sound seeing imagery expand in every direction.”
In 1977, while working on a sheet of the A.C.E. entitled Rest in Peace Awhile, Rizzoli suffered a debilitating stroke and was moved from his home. He died five years later.
Price range for Sketches: $1,500–$6,800.
Price range for Ink on Paper works: $8,000–$130,500.
We show Rizzoli’s Ink on Paper works as well as his Sketches on this site.
Portfolios and Books are also available. Inquire for details and prices.
We have a limited supply of A.G. Rizzoli, Architect of Magnificent Visions in hardcover and softcover. [ Learn more ] We also offer the DVD, Yield to Total Elation: The Life and Art of Achilles Rizzoli, a film by Pat Ferrero. [ Learn more ]