Mondrian was a major figure in the development of abstract art and his grid paintings have become iconic.
He did not believe that art needed to be figurative to be beautiful - on the contrary : "Art has no direct relation to reality... so one will make as little use as possible of reality".
To prove his point, he chose to impose 3 key constraints on his work, only using :
- red, blue and yellow
- horizontal and vertical lines
- 3 primary "values" - black, white and grey
He began experimenting with his first grids in Paris in the 1920s.
Fleeing to New York when the Germans invaded France, he became captivated by the city's lights and energy.
The painting is an homage to the city.
His paintings are among the most recognisable in the world.
One of the most influential associations of American avant-garde wrote of him : "the Netherlands have produced three great painters who, though a logical expression of their own country, rose above it through the vigour of their personality – the first was Rembrandt, the second was Van Gogh, and the third is Mondrian".
One of his grid paintings recently sold for $50 million.