The Syllabus

New Horizons in American Art: 1985 Exxon National Exhibition

New Horizons in American Art: 1985 Exxon National Exhibition

Contributions by Lisa Dennison
Published in 1985
120 pages, fully illustrated
Softcover, 7.50 x 8.50 inches

This catalogue showcases the work of nine artists who, although not united by a codified movement, share an ability to reconcile frequently conflicting concerns common to general art practice. Curator Lisa Dennison writes the introductory essay, which considers the movements, processes, and preoccupations that came to the fore in the wake of Neo-Expressionism. Additionally, Dennison undertakes a detailed exploration of aesthetic and meaning in the featured artists’ oeuvre, contextualizing their practices within an art historical framework. Artists are presented in separate sections, each containing an artist statement, brief biography, selected exhibitions, and selected bibliography.


Joan Nelson’s stark and haunting landscapes are reductive in color and imagery, yet rich in nuance and poetry. Unlike Kahn and Lau, Nelson does not strip nature to its essences, nor does she celebrate the inherent beauty of forms in the natural world. Her spare compositions emanate a profound sense of desolation; there is an unsettling and inexplicable emptiness in these unpeopled environments.

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