This monograph is one of only a few studies of Ryder's work. It examines him in the context of being a modernist master who resists the modern, who is both abstract and expressionistic. This book rests on the assumption that Ryder's art is best understood if placed not only in the context of his contemporaries but also in the context of American romanticism. Prompted by his conviction that natural forms are "instinct with significance" (in Melville's phrasing) and that natural processes offer an analogue for mental processes, Ryder, the author argues, works out in his visionary landscapes a personal mythology for probing the drama of human consciousness, and in particular the way in which opposed mental principles may be placed in creative or destructive tension. By looking carefully at the paintings, the author builds a case for seeing Ryder's removal of modern life from the subject matter of his art as an attempt not to escape the world he lives in but to grapple with issues that he can approach in no other way.