On May 19th, Wright is pleased to present Keeping Time: The William Dorsey Collection. With an eye for striking designs and an acute appreciation for the philosophy behind them, William Dorsey thoughtfully amassed an incredible collection of clocks, lighting, and furniture designs by the masterful George Nelson. Archival in its depth and variety, this lively sale features rare timepieces, prototypical designs, iconic furnishings and bold graphics. Vigorously curated and cherished for many years, the William Dorsey Collection at auction offers an opportunity to own truly exceptional examples of timeless design.

Keeping Time

The William Dorsey Collection

William, Annette, Nathaniel, and Cordelia Dorsey.

“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Like a thirsty man surrounded by saltwater, visitors to our midcentury modern home often glimpse more than 100, non-operating clocks on the wall and have this reaction. What use is a clock that isn’t plugged in and doesn’t tell time? The answer is that these are no ordinary clocks, as even a cursory inspection reveals. George Nelson and his team of designers—particularly Irving Harper—cared about function, but they were inspired by art, sculpture, innovation, and the philosophy of time.

A January 1, 1960 article in the New York Times put it succinctly. “Mr. Harper, seeking the soothing effect of shifting sands in hour-glasses, the mechanical wonders of eighteenth century clocks, and a new sculptural quality in time pieces, arrived [at the Motion Notion series]....By employing materials alien to clocksmiths of old, he has achieved a startling group of hypnotizing designs.” The designs are no less hypnotizing or influential sixty plus years later.

Motion Notion

This auction will be accompanied by a full-color catalog.

Keeping Time: The William Dorsey Collection

19 May 2022
11 am central

Additional Information
312 563 0020

12 – 19 May 2022
10 am – 4 pm M – F