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About the Collector: Irwin Lavenberg

Learn about the collector behind “Ukiyo-e to Shin Hanga: Changing Tastes in Japanese Woodblock Prints”

Irwin Lavenberg has one of the largest and most diverse private collections of Japanese prints in the United States. Yet, he admits he had little exposure to Japanese culture growing up. That changed when he started working for the American branch of Sony Corporation, the world-renowned Japanese electronics company, which provided him numerous opportunities to visit Japan.

After many business trips, Irwin began to extend those visits to go beyond the boardrooms and see more of Japan’s cultural treasures. As he experienced more of Japan’s art, he marveled not only at its beauty, but in its remarkable power to immerse him in a different time and place.

Irwin’s first woodblock print purchase was: Snow at Hi Marsh, Mito by Kawase Hasui. Having attended college in Syracuse, NY, a location legendary for its snowfall, Irwin recalls,

“I can remember going out walking in some pretty rural spots and being alone. Just having that feeling of isolation and being surrounded by a certain tenderness, being really embraced by the landscape. And by seeing this lone fisherman walking with his pole over his shoulder into this soft white and light blue landscape…it just moved me. I was there. I think that’s what really drew me into collecting.”

This power of the woodblock prints to transport him sparked a passion for collecting that continues today. As the ongoing global pandemic continues to limit travel opportunities, we hope the captivating quality of these beautiful and intriguing woodblock prints can engage you in your own reveries of other times and places.

To learn more about the art exhibition, “Ukiyo-e to Shin Hanga: Changing Tastes in Japanese Woodblock Prints,” see here.

View the Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints at