"Anne Ryan’s collages address us on an intimate scale, quietly and richly. By exploiting the sensuous properties of diverse materials, and by making the process more deliberative – one senses an almost reverential attitude toward their selection and deployment – she extended collage into realms of pictorial experience hitherto unexplored. At the same time, through her fascination with the very substance of things, she retained a hold on collage’s literal and physical past. It is at once remarkable and regrettable that only six years elapsed between her encounter with Schwitters’ work and her death in 1954 – the one because she achieved so much, the other because, having started so late, she was denied the opportunity of carrying it further.
At the core of their genesis lies an opposition between determinism and chance, between the innate inclination and the driving will on the one hand, and on the other the fortuitous sequence of experiences which guided and conditioned her sensibility. Yet one is struck by the fact that this very opposition, which accounted for so much, might easily have steered her creative energies elsewhere. So in a sense, circumscribed as the period of their making may have been, we are lucky to have anything at all."
Excerpt from essay for Anne Ryan: Collages 1948-1954, André Emmerich Gallery, 1979