Throughout his career Benny Andrews's painting practice combined elements of figuration, abstraction and surrealism. His subject matter ranged from personal narrative and cultural history to surrealist landscapes and political allegory. Early in his career Andrews developed a technique of roughly incorporating collaged fabric and paper into his paintings, which became a stylistic hallmark of his work.
Beginning with his time at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s, Andrews's drawings were defined by a spare, elegant use of line. A prolific drawer, he used this economic style to capture everyday scenes and work through imaginative images for his larger work.
Andrews often conceived of his work as parts of larger series. Works from these series may include sketches, works on paper, painting studies and larger masterworks. One of his first, The Bicentennial Series, was a six year cycle, begun in 1970 in anticipation of the American bicentennial of 1976. Each year was dedicated to the production of a single monumental painting, with dozens of drawings and painting studies made in the planning process.