Pittsburgh Papercraft 001: Cetacean Fountain (paper kit)


Pittsburgh Papercraft 001: Cetacean Fountain (paper kit)


In the 1930s, resident sculptor Frank Vittor designed this art deco drinking fountain for installation across Pittsburgh’s urban parks. Thirty fountains were cast, of which five remain.

The fountains provided water to passers-by, and are each guarded by heraldic dolphins. The scaly, toothsome design of these dolphins can be traced back to Roman mosaics of the cetaceans as heralds and steeds of Eros (later called Cupid), the god of Love.

Vittor, who was born in Italy and trained as a sculptor and artist under Rodin in Paris, moved to Pittsburgh in 1920, after a 1917 visit where he met long term friend and local astronomer John Brashear. His works can be seen across the city, from the Boulevard of the Allies to the Westinghouse Bridge.

In 1951, he proposed a monumental sculpture at the Point - a hundred foot tall statue of the mythical steel-worker Joe Magarac. The larger-than-life worker would pour back-lit water (‘molten steel’) from full-sized ladles held in his bare hands, mimicking the confluence of the rivers.

The sculpture proposal was declined. Vittor continued to produce sculpture until his death in 1968.

This papercraft kit brings the local sculptor’s works and story to life. It is a physical kit, which I can either mail to you, or deliver in person if you are in the Pittsburgh area. It assembles with scissors and tape.

You can read a detailed portfolio writeup of the project and its research here.

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