Ed Schad writes about unexpectedly encountering Alexander Rodchenko's triptych Pure Red, Pure Yellow, and Pure Blue (1921) on a trip to Mexico City.
Having been fascinated by the story of this work for decades, Schad notes: "I poured over the surfaces, but there was nothing to see other than cracks and age and fraying edges. The paintings obviously remained rolled a long time, and their condition spoke of a great fall from history … They seemed naïve, a vision of the monochromic impulse as merely political, a vision of color as something fundamental and platonic that could somehow be 'pure.' … But I remained stunned by my encounter with the work, by how it leapt … into the sudden reality of my visit to Mexico… When one thinks of revolutionary art—when one thinks of democratic reform predicated on socialist principles—this is the art that one thinks of. Rodchenko put forth his equation, but these were other equations put forth by Mexican artists on the other side of the world. But do they hold their power? Are they really revolutionary? Or does form only hold what its creator requires of it at the time, only to evaporate when the winds of history shift?"