Poet, printmaker, author, and painter Anne Ryan is often associated with the early generation of New York abstraction. In 1941, Ryan joined Atelier 17, a famous printmaking workshop originally established by Stanley William Hayter in France in the 1930s and transferred to New York after the Second World War. It wasn’t until 1948, when Ryan was 58 years old, that she began working in her signature medium of collage.
It is said to have been an exhibition of the work of Kurt Schwitters that inspired Ryan’s shift in medium. Her early implementation of connotative found materials, such as postage stamps and photos, led to her use of rice papers and cloth. Paper and fabric are both employed in Ryan’s collage Untitled (Whites with Greens) (1952). This work falls in line with Ryan’s signature formal geometry and diminutive scale. The scraps of paper and cloth are interspersed in a way that resembles a quilt, with the words wash and able the only legible text in the work.
Ryan’s historical association with the New York School comes from a perceived investment in form and materiality, though her work’s particular evocation of domesticity, craft, and female labor places Ryan within a long lineage of feminist art practice. Though Ryan took up her preferred medium late in life, she managed to complete some four hundred collaged works between 1948 and her death in 1954.
Anne Ryan Biography
Anne Ryan (b. 1889, Hoboken, NJ; d. 1954, Morristown, NJ) began her only formal art training at Stanley William Hayter’s famous printmaking workshop Atelier 17, New York (1941). Her first solo painting exhibition was at the Pinacotheca Gallery, New York (1941), followed by other one-woman shows including at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York (1950, 1954, 1955, 1970); the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1979); the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven (1979); the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1980); and Washburn Gallery, New York (1985, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2008). A retrospective of her work was held at the Susan Teller Gallery (2007). Ryan’s work may be found in numerous public collections such as: the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Maddie Phinney Biography
Maddie Phinney is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She received her MA from the University at Buffalo, New York (2014) and is currently Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Visual Studies. Her work centers on the art of identity and its critical reception, with particular attention paid to the politics of the AIDS epidemic in the US. Her writing has appeared in artcritical, V Magazine, Bomb, Nukta Art and others.