String Wrapped Canvas: 1979 – 1986
To reinforce the anti-illusionistic quality of his paintings, Tiemann wove grids of this string, which he placed over the canvas before applying the paint. Although the grid is as old as Western art, it was widely used by artists in the 1960s as a way of eliminating personalized arrangements of form as a compositional device, the grid, according to Sol LeWitt, “neutralizes space by treating it all equally.” While painted grids, such as those of Agnes Martin or Robert Ryman, have the effect of doubling and enlarging the weave of the canvas, Tiemann’s string grids literally reproduce the weave and act as a barrier, forcing all information to the front of the picture plane. The majority of Tiemann’s grid paintings are five-feet square, just “as high as a man, as wide as a man’s outstretched arms,’ as Ad Reinhardt described his own five-foot paintings. Their deliberately human scale, in conjunction with the emphatic materiality, endows Tiemann’s paintings with a powerful presence.