Anne Ryan was a self-taught writer, painter, and printmaker who took up her preferred medium, collage, at the age of fifty-eight. Even though she died a mere six years later, she managed to create approximately four hundred collages, mostly diminutive in scale. In her earliest collages, Ryan emulated those by Dada artist Kurt Schwitters by including snippets of language or bits of discarded material, like sugar-cube wrappings from New York's famed Rumpelmayer's restaurant. In later work such quotidian elements were mostly abandoned in favor of a rigorously formal approach. Ryan collected a variety of fabrics, preferably worn, even tattered or frayed, and combined them with other ephemeral materials, such as cardboard, foil, or cellophane, into compact, subtly textured arrangements. She sometimes used the handmade rag papers made by Douglass Howell as supports for her collages and ultimately incorporated them into her compositions.
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art