He studied at the School of Arts during 1861-1864 with professor Georgios Fytalis, at whose workshop he was also employed at the same time for practice. In 1861, on scholarship from the Greek government, he went to Munich, where he took courses of painting with Wilhelm von Kaulbach and sculpture with Max von Widnmann. In 1871, he returned to Athens and established his own studio. He produced sections of the sculptural decoration in the Academy of Athens.

His work was presented in group exhibitions in Greece and abroad, including the Vienna International Exhibition (1875), Olympia (1875 and 1888) and the exhibitions for the benefit of the Red Cross at the Vassilios Melas residence (1881) and Parnassos, Athens (1885).

Ioannis Vitsaris belongs to a generation of sculptors who broke free of the restrictive precepts of neoclassicism and introduced realistic qualities into their works. During his studies, he pursued mythological subjects in the context of a classicistic spirit. From 1871, when he returned to Greece, he began to follow realistic directions, evident in both his choice of subject and approach. He mainly produced memorials and busts, reliefs, decorative items and sculptures of free inspiration, in which he combined idealistic and classicistic models with realistic traits. His works are distinguished for their meticulous detail and his outstanding ability to animate his figures.