New York-based architect Donald E. Hatch moved to Caracas, Venezuela in 1948. Having served as a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps during World War II, his new post was chief architect of the International Basic Economy Corporation, an enterprise founded by Nelson Rockefeller to bolster the economies of developing nations. Hatch’s role was to design commercial and public buildings throughout Venezuela that would stimulate growth and strengthen its infrastructure. He took his mission seriously: “Whereas, stateside, an architect’s community may be his city, its environs, and his state… in Venezuela, Caracas is my house, but my community is all Venezuela.” His designs included structures for the U.S. Rubber Company, National Cash Register Company and Mobil Oil Company, as well as shopping centers and private residences including Rockefeller’s own home. Hatch brought a modern flair to each of these projects, contributing long-term not only to the region’s economy, but also to its visual character.
Beyond architecture, Hatch involved himself in the art scene of Caracas when he established the Galeria Don Hatch in 1953. One artist represented by the gallery was Harry Bertoia. The sculptor had already firmly established himself in the United States after studying at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and designing his iconic collection of chairs for Knoll introduced in 1952. The financial success of this seating series enabled Bertoia to shift his focus entirely to sculpture, which he considered a means through which to contemplate nature and the complexities of the universe. The present lot is an exceptional example of his evocative metalwork, with its impressive scale and delicate balance of vertical and horizontal elements. Through the gallery exhibiting such works and presenting them to an international audience, Hatch and Bertoia developed a close friendship, culminating in 1958 when Hatch commissioned Bertoia to create a monumental screen for the United States Embassy in Caracas. This would be one of Hatch’s last structures erected in the city before returning to the U.S. and one of Bertoia’s many celebrated public installations from his prolific career.