Yield To Total Elation

Achilles G. Rizzoli (1896-1981) was a San Francisco Bay Area native, a professional draftsman, and visionary artist.

By all accounts, Achilles Rizzoli was a devoted son and a competent employee. A work colleague described him as friendly but not sociable. He appears to have had no close friends and was a lifelong celibate who may have suffered from mental illness. The earliest article I found about him was written in 1992 by John MacGregor, who seems to have had access to his journals.
[Rizzoli] speaks again and again of his "confusion, inability to mobilize the mechanics of recording impressions automatically, for the most part dwelling in a sphere of shifting sand-like maze of colour, paste, light and sound". Such elaborate documentation of hallucinatory experience, in both written and graphic form, all carefully dated, is uniquie in the phenomenology of schizophrenia. ("A.G. Rizzoli: The Architecture of Hallucination", Raw Vision #6)
Every other source I came across points to A. G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions by Hernandez, Beardsley and Cardinal (1997). Many of the biographical details referenced below were gleaned from this book.

Only a few neighbors and colleagues took notice of his art during his lifetime. Nine years after his death, a sample of his work made its way to Bonnie Grossman, founder of The Ames Gallery. Investigating further, she uncovered over 40-years-worth of Rizzoli creations in his great-nephew's attic. In 1997 the San Diego Museum of Art launched a two-year traveling exhibition of his drawings that was accompanied by Architect of Magnificent Visions, the definitive study of the artist and his work. A documentary film, Yield to Total Elation: The Life and Art of Achilles Rizzoli, was released in 2000.

Symbolic representations, or "transfigurations" as he called them, made up the bulk of his visual work between 1935 and 1944. His depictions of people and events as mansions, towers, and cathedrals mix a variety of architectural styles including Beaux-Arts, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Renaissance, and Romanesque. The drawings are embellished with religious iconography and affectionate sentiments about the subjects, sometimes written in verse. On the first Sunday of each August between 1935 and 1940, Rizzoli hosted the A.T.E. (Achilles Tectonic Exhibit) at his home in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. Several of the pictures below commemorate the visits of attendees. Also featured below is the one of the plot plans for Y.T.T.E. (Yield To Total Elation), an invented world's fair-like expo.

hi mom

Mother Symbolicly Represented (1935)

Mrs. Geo. Powleson Symbolically Portrayed (1935)

1st prize

"In appreciation of the kindly interest they have shown in their visit to the A.T.E. during its first anniversary day, August 2, 1936."

planned for chestnut and polk in SF

The Primal Glimpse at Forty (1936)
"That you too may see something you've not seen before"

Alfredo Capobianco and Family Symbolically Sketched (1937)

The YTTE Plot Plan (1938)

a pun?

Shirley was a 6-year old kid from the neighborhood. (1939)


"A Scholar and a Gentleman" (1939)


"The Palace God is Building for Abraham N. Zachariah" (1939)

Assorted Images

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Rizzoli focused his creative creative energy on writing prior to 1935. His self-published book, The Colonnade (1933) was billed as "Versified Fiction Romancing Total Love in Vivid Terms of Highly Entertaining Monumental Mediums." The effort generated little or no interest; 3,000 seal copies of book were found in his home after his death. His final creative undertaking was AMTE’s Celestial Extravaganza (AMTE = Architecture Made To Entertain), a journal of his visions, recorded in prose, poetry, and illustrations (1958-1977).

I found other good accounts of his life in this blog this blog, and The Ames Gallery site. Newspapers that critiqued the '97/'98 exhibition included the SF ChronicleSF Examiner, and the NY Times. Note to locals: the San Francisco Public Library offers archives of Raw Vision magazine, along with Magnificent Visions, and the documentary film Yield to Total Elation.

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Related Images

Rizzoli graduated from poly-technical school in 1915

Tower of Jewels, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915

notice the white figures near the entrance?
Grace Cathedral, Nob Hill, San Francisco, built between 1928 and 1964

Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill, San Francsico, built 1933

Golden Gate International Exhibition, Treasure Island, San Francisco Bay, 1939

Rizzoli's former home, Alabama Street in Bernal Heights, San Francisco, 2009

1 comment:

lensjockey said...

thanks so much for posting the work of such a wonderful artist. I have seen very few of his pieces...
I'm a friend of sharock's haha!