Anne Ryan was never a household name, but then she never intended to be. By the time of her death in 1954, she was greatly esteemed for her collages, which she’d started making only six years earlier, after a long and somewhat disappointing career as a poet, novelist, painter, and printmaker. Ryan’s collages are often no larger than a manuscript page, and some are so small they could fit in a shirt pocket. Though they don’t have a great deal in common with the large-scale strivings of Abstract Expressionism, that didn’t keep Ryan from winning a following in vanguard circles during her lifetime. Betty Parsons gave her several shows, discerning critics reviewed them favorably, and Ryan quickly established herself as a serious, highly individual figure whose work could be disarmingly beautiful.

These days, one doesn’t hear too much about Ryan. She’s not mentioned...


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