"Drexler’s other mentor, Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) was even more important in establishing her attitude toward art in general and its place in her intellectual development. Motherwell, a prolific art critic and painter, wrote about the innovative approach of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism “which tries to find out what art is precisely through the process of making art. That is to say, one discovers, so to speak, rather than imposes a picture. What constitutes the discovery is the discovery of one’s own feeling.”
This Motherwellian emphasis on the process of personal invention impelled Drexler’s changing approach to making art from the beginning.In a series of early hand-colored etchings, we see Drexler experimenting with animated abstract shapes and vivid color—the formal elements that would come to dominate her mature approach to painting.
These early etchings owe much to the graphic art of Robert Motherwell and other avant-garde printmakers, such as Stanley William Hayter and Gabor Peterdi, who were transforming the graphic arts from an illustrative to an abstract mode of representation. Drexler greatly admired Motherwell’s work, as well as his intellect, remarking that he had “the finest mind I have ever met in the world.” She appreciated his philosophical approach and his writing about art as well. Her early ink and wash drawings, with their aggressive use of the paint stroke, are also related to the work of leading members of the New York school of Abstract Expressionists, notably Motherwell and Franz Kline. But as she began to work with color, the lessons she absorbed while studying at Hans Hofmann’s school helped to define her unique approach to painting. The earliest of these small-scale paintings rely on vivid colors and swirling, gestural shapes to animate the overall surface of the picture."