Willy Rizzo is best known as a photographer and his career began during the golden age of photojournalism. He began in illustrious 20 year career with Paris Match in 1948 that would see him photograph some of the greatest names of the age.
Married as he then was to actress Elsa Martinelli, Rizzo has unparalleled access to the stars and his constellation of sitters would include such greats as Brigitte Bardot, Sofia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Jane Fonda, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. His assignments would take him to the Nuremberg trials and the French Indochina war. He was the first in the Vatican to photograph the new Pope Pius XII and his colour portrait of Winston Churchill made the first cover of Paris Match. Herge even based the character of Paris-Flash photographer Walter Rizotto in Tintin’s adventure The Castafiore Emerald on his real-life Paris Match counterpart.
His photographic work is well known and well documented, but less so is his design. In the late 60s, he put down his camera and focused instead on furniture design, a field which, though he had no experience, he would go on to enjoy considerable success. His imagination and severe neo-classical style defines the Italian style between 1965 and 1980.