A member of the Abstract Expressionists, Motherwell shared the groups’ interest in spontaneous, subconscious creation. The finished artwork of an Abstract Expressionist would often convey not only the artists’ physical engagement in the work, but also a deeper connection with their inner emotions or thoughts.
Early in Motherwell’s career he was influenced by the Surrealists and their theories on automatism. Automatism is a technique that was often used by the Surrealists to probe into the unconscious. This spontaneous way of drawing would allow unconscious ideas and feelings to be expressed.