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David Winter stand in his art studio
Now entering: David Winter’s world of wonder
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

A Magical Dive Into a Gallerist’s 20,000-Photo Collection — and Studio

Enjoy an all-access look at David Winter’s space, and his hordes of wonderful treasures, with commentary from the man himself!

Neil Patrick Harris is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wondercade. In his spare time he also acts — fairly well, too, as his Tony and Emmy Awards can attest.

April 17, 2024 4:57 pm

Hiya — it’s Neil here, taking back the reins from my fedora-wearing friend The Narrator to introduce you to gallerist David Winter. I own several of his pieces, having first run into him at the Outsider Art Fair here in New York. (I’m especially partial to his vintage circus images. Pure gold. Well, actually photo prints on paper, but you get me.) After all, from time to time, Wondercade explores fascinating people’s fascinating spaces: my home office; journalist, style icon and friend-to-all-supermodels Derek Blasberg’s living room; and designer John Derian’s studio, to name a few. So enjoy an all-access look at David’s space, and his hordes of wonderful treasures, with commentary from the man himself. I know you’ll appreciate their beauty, darkness, strangeness and mystery just as much as I do. -NPH

Wide-shot of an eclectic living room filled with art
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

David Winter: This hand is a great object. It was literally on top of a church in the South…like, sticking up from the roof. You can see the angle at the base where it was attached. I don’t know exactly where it’s from, but I’ve seen photographs of churches that have these hands. Maybe it’s the hand of God?

None of my furniture matches and there’s nothing special about it — I don’t know the designer or brand, and that’s the point. I have nothing that would have a designer’s name on it. The brown chair was in the building when I got here in 1980, and I recently refurbished it.

Photograph with an over painting of a man in a top hat
Courtesy of David Winter

We don’t know exactly who this person is — I think it could be a guy named Onderdonk who was a lawyer on Long Island — but it doesn’t matter. The interesting thing is it’s not a painting, it’s a photograph with pastel on it. It’s the best painted photo I’ve ever seen. Making paintings out of photographs was a huge industry between the 1880s and 1920s, partly because it was a poor man’s way of owning a painting — it’d be a lot cheaper than hiring a painter.

Paper mache rabbit hanging on the wall
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

Everyone who comes in loves these. I got them in Germany, where they do a lot of street theatre, which is probably what these were made for. They look like they’re from the 1920s, and they’re made out of papier-mâché, so they’re delicate…which is why one of the ears broke — I had it restored.

Wide-shot of book cabinet topped with artifacts and sculptures
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

Sculpture of wooden shoes
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

This is a salesman’s sample of a shoe made for a lady with one short leg. Her dress would come down and hide the upper shoe. I got it at an antiques shop — I’d never seen one before or since until just the other day, when I saw one at an antiques show. This one’s just a sample, but the one I just saw was the real thing. It was funky.

A vintage iron (really made of iron)
Courtesy of David Winter

This looks like a shoehorn, but it’s an iron from Poland. My wife is Polish, and we found it together in a flea market in Krakow. It’s turn of the 20th century, I think, and it doesn’t hold water, so I think it took a piece of coal. It’s sort of a mystery and puzzle.

An African mask on a pole
Courtesy of David Winter

That’s an African mask. It’s got three faces in one: if you look at it from the right side, it’s a face, and from the middle, it’s another face, and yet another face from the left side. It’s got four eyes that make three faces. I acquired it in an online auction. These days, there’s an online auction every three seconds, and everyone is a little nervous about what they’re bidding on because you can’t look at it in person. It’s a dangerous gamble! But every now and again, you find something wonderful.

Close-up of a 15-year-old oreo speckled dachshund
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

This is my dog, Ogurek. He’s a miniature short-haired dachshund.

Wide-shot of a studio full of archived art and prints
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

B&W photograph of a circus clown sleeping
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

Neil’s bought some of my circus photos before. I have many from this photographer named Weegee, who was a newspaper photographer and named himself after a Ouija board. This one is from the 1940s or ‘30s.

Photograph of an old note reading, "Janitor: Go to the top floor, you'll see something important in the bath-tub. I discovered it today, but I did not tell the police because I do not want to get in a jam. It's a murder."
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

This is a newspaper photo of a letter. I found it in a flea market. The letter was too faint, so they painted over it and then rephotographed it. I’ve always liked photos of letters, but this is my favorite. The best. I could’ve sold it 50 times over, but it’s never been for sale.

Photograph of a algae species dried sample over a painting
Olivia Sheehy for Wondercade

Here’s a 19th-century seaweed specimen, where the seaweed was glued to the paper. I was on Martha Stewart’s show with it years ago — she really likes this kind of stuff.

B&W x-ray photograph of a flower and a seahorse
Courtesy of David Winter

Those are contemporary X-ray photos by Don Dudenbostel — a former newspaper and magazine photojournalist who went on to specialize in science images.

B&W photograph of a group of children wearing masks and pointed hats
Courtesy of David Winter

B&W photograph of circus elephant holding a man gently in his mouth by his head
Courtesy of David Winter

These circus photos were taken by H. A. Atwell, a commercial photographer in the 1930s, and Leonard Balish, a photojournalist in the 1950s.


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