Anne Ryan was born in 1887 in Hoboken, New Jersey, and passed away in 1954 in New York. Ryan spent much of her life pursuing poetry, and in 1925 she published a volume titled “Lost Hills”. In 1931, she moved overseas to a small village in Majorca, but the Great Depression forced her to move back to New York a few years later. She cultivated friendships with many of the leading artists of the day, and in 1936 begun making oil paintings. In 1941 when Stanley William Hayter relocated his printmaking workshop Atelier 17 to New York, she trained with him in making engravings and woodblocks.
In 1948, Ryan was encouraged to see an exhibition at the Rose Fried Gallery of collages by Kurt Schwitters. So moved by the works she saw there, Ryan went home that night to make her own. From that point in 1948, Anne Ryan made collages for six years until her death in 1954. Like Schwitters, Ryan’s early collages included texts and found debris, but she soon started to branch out into a wider variety of rag papers, fabrics, and textiles including handmade paper by Douglass Morse Howell.
She joined the Betty Parsons Gallery roster in 1949 with a solo exhibition of her collages. In the next few years, Ryan was included in the 1951 Ninth Street Show and MoMA’s “American Painting and Sculpture”. Twenty years after her death, the Brooklyn Museum and the Smithsonian Institute organized a solo exhibition which travelled to the Art Museum of South Texas and the New Jersey State Museum.
The Washburn Gallery has represented the Estate of Anne Ryan since 1985. Her work is represented in many collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.