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Karl Bitter at the Pan-Am

Karl Bittter was the Pan-Am director of sculpture.

Karl Theodore Francis Bitter (1867-1915) was born in Vienna, Austria. He studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts before coming to the United States in 1889. He found work at an architecture firm, and became known for his architectural sculptures. Throughout his career, he distinguished himself at various national and international expositions. In 1915, Bitter was struck by a car and killed in New York City.

Bitter, of Viennese birth, had been in America for only ten years, but had already enjoyed major success with crucial artistic projects: he had provided sculptural enhancements for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and had designed decorations for the Administration Building at the Chicago's World's Fair.

He fervently believed that the decorative arts should do more than merely please the senses. They should also convey the purpose of the Exposition, of the individual buildings, and even of the exhibits within

His goal of artistic unity required that the sculptor and architect work together to an unprecedented degree, from the very outset of the creative process, in order to harmonize the sculpture with the purpose and architectural conception of each building.

in the
Charles Goodyear House

Bitter envisioned a profusion of statuary and fountains decorating the grounds, illustrating in allegory the Progress of man. The concept not only supported but extended the principal theme of the Exposition: "To celebrated the achievements of civilization during 100 years of development in the western hemisphere"

Whereas The Exposition intended to focus on one century of progress,m Bitter chose to illustrate man's story on an evolutionary scale beginning with representations of his origins. Very much influenced by the spirit of social Darwinism predominant at the time, Bitter saw in the Exposition an opportunity to depict in allegory and symbol the history of the development of humanity.

Text source: "The Rainbow City," by Kerry S. Grant. Buffalo: Canisius College Press, 2001

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