The parents of Achilles G. Rizzoli arrived to California around 1890, from Italian Switzerland. Achilles was born in 1896, he was the fourth of five children. After finishing polytechnic studies, he became a draftsman for architectural firms in San Francisco. Without friends, he lived with his mother. His contacts were limited to the children from his neighborhood. An inconspicuous clerk during the day he leads a double life devoting all his nights to his artistic activity. He is not familiar with high literature and art ; contemporary architecture and reading of the Bible seem to be the main sources of his inspiration. He calls himself transcriber, messenger of God, but does not consider himself as an artist. After the death of his mother he spent the rest of his life in absolute solitude.
Faced with his creative output, the viewer and reader are literally scratching their heads. It is characterized by a multitude of themes and styles. The non-linear narratives include insistent repetition of mysterious, indecipherable words, neologisms, unfinished sentences. Hundreds of historical and religious figures seem to assist him in his undertaking and participate in the transformation of the world. Rizzoli’s double life began at the age of twenty years with writing a series of novels, most of which have disappeared, with the exception of a typescript entitled "The Colonnade". Later on Rizzoli decided to move from writing to pictorial production. In his Symbolization Drawings he transforms the members of his family - especially his mother - in cathedrals and palaces. Subsequently Rizzoli consolidated some of these symbolic designs in a project he calls Y.T.T.E., Yield to Total Elation. There, he developed his personal version of the Universal Exhibition that took place in San Francisco in 1915. He created and attached to his Symbolization Drawings architectural plans representing this "Expeau of Magnitude, Magnificence and Manifestation". He decided to place his exhibition on an imaginary island he called Isle Isle Del St Sans Vaile. A.C.E. (Amte’s Celestial extravagant (r)anza) is his second major project. He began with a series of poems celebrating different aspects of architecture. Each sheet deals with all sorts of everyday events, as diverse as the description of falling snow, the election of J.F. Kennedy, the celebration of saints or the metamorphosis of a deceased member of his family. The poems are accompanied by quotations from the Bible and signed by imaginary assistants Rizzoli recruits among historical figures or saints. He sometimes includes a short biography of a saint or a copy of an obituary from the local newspaper. He also adds prosaic notes, which he calls "Auxiliary comments" where he tries to explain the genesis of his poems. The most interesting sheets are those that combine writings and architectural images. The purpose of A.C.E. is to transform the deceased in the so called " Earchitectural Inheritances" : architectural structures - palaces, churches, cathedrals, galleries - which house the soul in the afterlife.
SEE ALSO :
Hernandez, Jo Farb, John Beardsley and Roger Cardinal. A.G. Rizzoli : Architect of Magnificent Visions. New York and San Diego : Harry N Abrams, San Diego Museum of Art, 1997.
Safarova Barbara. L’œuvre d’Achilles G. Rizzoli et d’Unica Zürn dans le cadre de l’art brut. Approche interdisciplinaire. PhD thesis in History and Semiology of Text and Image. Paris, 2008.