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Surreal Surface Tension - oil on canvas - 78" x 48" by Dave Martsolf

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Surreal Surface Tension - oil on canvas - 78" x 48" by 

The original surreal painting is 78″ × 48″, is wood slat framed, and is for sale. Contact Dave Martsolf through Bubblemail or write

Location: Central New Hampshire

Art critic Clement Greenberg made the hypothesis years ago that Impressionism was the first step taken by modern art to get away from the illusion of space that had predominated painting for hundreds of years. Expressionism and the growth of the abstract painiting was seen as the logical conclusion of this process. Here “Surface Tension” balances that theory with an illusionistic space where all the subjects attempt to define the surface just in case you were thinking we were not aware of this critical assessment of the world and ‘progress’ of painting away from space.
This work was featured in Painted Dogs, August 2009, and in Realist Traditional Art, July 2009.

Dateline July 3rd 2009 – Artist Dave Martsolf today installed the 4′ × 6′ oil painting “Surface Tension” in a vacant retail ground level window on Washington Street in Boston as part of the city’s Boston Art Windows project. The project, sponsored by the Boston Revelopment Authority, Mayor Menino and the City of Boston, brings high quality art to empty retail space that is available between leases in order to maintain the cultural promise of the city to its citizens.

“Surface Tension” will be offered multiple sites as space availability changes throughout the near future. The piece, originally conceived as a counterpoint argument to American art critic Clement Greenberg’s flat painting surface paradigm of American Expressionism, is perfectly at home in its window setting as the people in the painting with hands raised against an invisible surface appear to be pressing their palms against the window itself.

“Surface Tension” was the 1985 winner of the Sawyer Memorial Award for Painting at the 38th Annual New Hampshire Art Association Exhibition at the Currier Gallery of Art in Manchester, NH.

Dave Martsolf
43 Nashua Road
Windham, NH 03087


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  • StarKatz
    StarKatzalmost 6 years ago

    What fabulous attention to detail.. very 50’s would love to see them with a real background might make them look cut-out.. I’m speechless otherwise :) fantastic!

  • Dave Martsolf
    Dave Martsolfalmost 6 years ago

    Thank you StarKatz. In New Hampshire, USA the 50’s lasted right up through the 80’s!

  • Keith Reesor
    Keith Reesorabout 5 years ago

    Wonderful work Dave!! Really like what you were attempting to define here!!
    Now to have it on display in a Boston Office window has to be quite the thrill!! :)

  • Thanks Keith. First time out of storage in 25 years. Regardless the outcome, the piece has had its day in public.

    – Dave Martsolf

  • Barbara Applegate
    Barbara Applegateabout 5 years ago

    This is gorgeous. What great detail,good job. There is a new group called Psinted Dogs This painting would be a addition to this new Group, Come Join Us.

  • Hi Barbara, Thanks so much. I’ll come over to Psinted Dogs and take a look. – Dave

    – Dave Martsolf

  • Leslie Gustafson
    Leslie Gustafsonabout 5 years ago

    This is amazing Dave! I am shaking my head that this is an oil. I have no idea how you got this effect but it is so interesting and the people are painted are so real and intersting:-)

  • Hi Leslie,

    Thanks so much for your kind comments. Painting like this is not so hard, but I am a slow painter and it does take a LONG time. That’s why I do not have so many paintings out there. I do hope to do more. Thanks again. – Dave

    – Dave Martsolf

  • Barbara Applegate
    Barbara Applegateabout 5 years ago

  • Thanks Barbara, and BTW, I love dogs!

    – Dave Martsolf

  • Margaret Harris
    Margaret Harrisabout 5 years ago

    Beautiful portrait!!

  • Thanks Margaret, I appreciate your kindness. – Dave

    – Dave Martsolf

  • Barbara Applegate
    Barbara Applegateabout 5 years ago

    Congratulations on Your August Feature

  • Barbara, I just saw this and WOW!!! Thanks so much to everyone at Painted Dogs! – Dave

    – Dave Martsolf

  • Belinda "BillyLee" NYE (Printmaker)
    Belinda "Billy...about 5 years ago

    This is amazing, welcome to the Fine Arts group and thank you for all the hard work you have done on the side of this work explaining the process. Its indeed and honor to have such an accomplished artists join our group. BillyLee

  • Thanks Belinda, you are too kind. The side work is just blatant self-promotion. I guess the Arts needs all it can get or make in that regard. It will be an honor to join the Fine Arts group once I can figure out how to do it. :-) Dave

    – Dave Martsolf

  • robynart
    robynartabout 5 years ago

    Hi Dave ,
    Love your work can’t imagine how much time you would have to put into something so large just the planing the work would take a great deal of time before you even got started.Wow

  • A summer’s barbecue with friends turned out to be the perfect meeting of idea with willing models. A few photographs of the overall scene, plus close-ups for details was all it took – plus about two months in the studio (I am not a very fast painter – or wasn’t then). Hope to try my hand in oils again soon. Thanks for the kind comments!

    – Dave Martsolf

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