Aleksandr Rodchenko
The Russian Avant-Garde
Experiment and Innovation
New Cultural Institutions
Spatial Constructions
The Death of Painting
Graphic Design
Portraits of Mayakovsky
Workers' Club 1925
Design for Theater and Film
Stalin's Power
In September 1921, five Constructivist artists--Rodchenko and Stepanova, together with Aleksandra Ekster, Liubov Popova, and Aleksandr Vesnin--each contributed five works to the first part of a two-part exhibition in Moscow, titled 5x5=25. Rodchenko exhibited paintings titled Line and Cell, plus three monochrome canvases dated 1921: Pure Red Color, Pure Blue Color, and Pure Yellow Color. Years later he recalled:

I reduced painting to its logical conclusion and exhibited three canvases: red, blue and yellow. I affirmed: it's all over.
Basic colors.
Every plane is a plane and there is to be no representation.

Distilling the art of painting into the primary colors from which all others can be made, the triptych realized a key imperative of modernist art: to pursue formal investigation to its logical end. In the eyes of Rodchenko and his fellow Constructivists this sweeping gesture had political as well as artistic significance, for his renunciation of painting put into action the words of his colleague Nikolai Tarabukin: "Current social circumstances dictate new forms of art." Having enacted the death of the old forms, Rodchenko embarked on an adventurous quest for new ones.

© 1998 The Museum of Modern Art, New York