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Piet Mondrian was born in 1872 in Amersfoot, in the central Netherlands, into a strict Calvinist family. He attended a teacher's training course in drawing at the National Academy of Art in Amsterdam, and then spent, most of the 1890s learning and painting. In 1912 he made a crucial visit to Paris where he was influenced by the Cubists. He would later move to London and then New York where he spent the last four years of his life. He is the twentieth century's greatest exponent of Geometric Abstraction.

New York City 1, or rather the series of works later brought together under the name New York City, marks the beginning of a new phrase in Mondrian's work. The black lines have disappeared along with the rectangles of primary color. Instead, lines in the primary colors yellow, but also red and blue  traverse the square canvas, interweaving with each other. For the most part, the yellow lines cross those of the other colors, but here and there, in a most subtle way, the red and blue lines cross the yellow.