Cheryl Kelley

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Cheryl Kelley
Cheryl Kelley Self-Portrait.jpg
Cheryl Kelley, photo by the artist
Houston, Texas, USA
EducationUniversity of Houston (Houston, Texas, USA); High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (Houston, Texas, USA)
Known forPhotorealistic paintings, especially of cars
StylePhotorealism, Hyperrealism
AwardsPollock-Krasner Foundation Grant; Hunting Art Prize Finalist

Cheryl Kelley is an American painter known for her photorealism, especially her paintings of classic and muscle cars. Her work has been featured on the cover of Harper's Magazine[1] and can be seen at the Scott Richards Contemporary Art gallery in San Francisco, California, the Bernarducci·Meisel Gallery in New York City, New York, and the Seven Bridges Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut.[2][3][4] In 2009 and 2011 she was a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize, and in 2012 she received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant.[5] The art collectors' resource Artsy considers her one of ten "Masters of Photorealism".[6]


Kelley began her career as an abstract expressionist but is recognized chiefly as a photorealist or hyperrealist.[7][8] In 2003, she began to make paintings of cars using oil on canvas, saying she was drawn by the abstract quality of reflections off the cars' curved surfaces.[7][9] Around 2008, she began to use oil on aluminum panels.[9] Like traditional photorealists, Kelley bases her paintings on photographs, in this case taken mostly at car shows and automobile museums.[10] However, her technique does not rely strictly on the "mechanical" transfer of photographic images to canvas.[11]


Much of the commentary on Kelley's work centers on her use of cars as subjects. Her low angles of perspective and emphasis on "sensuous curves and luscious surfaces"[6] are seen as representing a feminine, sexualized take on a conventionally masculine area of interest.[12] By "portray[ing] high-powered muscle cars as seductive objects of desire,"[5] she "brings a uniquely female perspective to these objects that are almost synonymous with youthful bad-boy hyper-masculinity."[13]

Have you ever seen a car so sexy that you wanted to run your hands all over it, maybe even stretch out luxuriously on the hood? .... Along with pinup and boudoir photography, the dominion of male artists over car art is being left in the dust. While Robert Bechtle paints photorealistic automobiles in their natural, middle-class habitats, Kelley takes them out of context, removing their utilitarian role and elevating them to works of art, freeing her to infuse them with hyperrealistic detail.[14]

Observers state that her works resemble high-definition photographs, but that the images shown in reflection actually make the paintings seem "more realistic than their photographic references."[15]


Kelley gained public attention in 2009 as a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize.[2] In August 2009, her work was featured on the cover of Harper's Magazine.[1] Shortly afterward, her work was chosen by Frank Bernarducci, a leading authority on photorealism, for exhibition at the Bernarducci·Meisel Gallery, which he co-founded with Louis K. Meisel.[16] Los Angeles gallery Jonathan Novak Contemporary Art includes her among a group of "revered and influential"[17] photorealists, including John Baeder, Robert Bechtle, Charles Bell, Robert Cottingham, Richard Estes, Gus Heinze, Ralph Goings, Daniel Green, and Elizabeth Patterson. In 2013, Artsy included her on its list of ten "Masters of Photorealism," along with founding photorealists Richard Estes and Robert Cottingham.[6]

Beyond the art world, fans of classic and muscle cars admire Kelley's paintings for capturing the aesthetic experience of viewing classic cars, both as art objects and in the context of auto shows. Automotive writer Aaron Miller dubbed her "the most photo-realistic automotive artist in America,"[15] while Rosecrans Baldwin has said she "is the best thing that ever happened to car shows."[9]

Her recent work gets the sex appeal right but also nails the grandeur of auto shows, where some of the world’s fastest objects sit still under lights.[18]

Her technique and her subject matter have inspired numerous tributes from fans impressed by the photorealism of her paintings as well as the apparent incongruity of a "lady who ... paints super awesome cars."[19]

Cheryl Kelley likes to paint hyper-realistic portraits of vintage muscle cars. This Texas based artist uses high-gloss oil paints to recreate Detroit iron with photographic precision. The result is uncanny and cool. Cheryl draws her subject matter inspiration from hanging out at car shows. I ask you, can a girl get any cooler than this?[20]

Personal life[edit]

Cheryl Kelley was born in Houston, Texas in 1968.[2] She graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston in 1987 and attended the University of Houston.[3] She now lives in Northern California.[21]

Noted exhibitions[edit]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

2015 Seven Bridges Foundation, Greenwich, CT[2][3]

2013 "Cheryl Kelley: Detailed," Samek Art Gallery, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA[2][3]

Group exhibitions[edit]

2016 "Land Escapes," Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, NY[22]

2015 "Stainless Steel: A Group Exhibition of Reflective Works in 3 Dimensions," Bernarducci·Meisel Gallery, New York, NY[23]

2015 "The Art of Collecting," Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI[24]

2014 "Everybody Needs a Hero!" Scott Richards Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CA[25]

2014 "Winter White," Bernarducci·Meisel Gallery, New York, NY[26]

2014 "Photorealism in a Digital Age II" Bernarducci·Meisel Gallery, New York, NY[27]

2014 "Photorealism: The Everyday Illuminated" Jonathan Novak Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA[28]

2013 "Summer Sights: A Gallery Survey Exhibition," Bernarducci·Meisel Gallery, New York, NY[29]

2013 “Photorealism Revisited,” Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK[7]

2010 "Drive," David Klein Gallery, Birmingham, MI[30]

2013 “Route 66,” Skidmore Contemporary Art, Santa Monica, CA[31]

2009 "Photorealism: A Closer Look," Scott Richards Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CA[32]

2009 “Endless Summer Exhibition,” Lyons Weir Gallery, New York, NY[33]

2008 “Fotofest,” New Gallery, Houston, TX[34]

2008 "Summer Salon: Works on Paper" Lyons Wier Ortt Contemporary Art, New York, NY[35]

2007 "High and Dry Smoke and Fog" Phantom Galleries LA Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, CA[36]

2007 Bridge Art Fair, Art Murmur Gallery, Miami, FL[33]

2007 Lyons Wier Ortt, New York, NY[33]

2005 Auto Show, The Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy, NY[33]

2003 "Celebration of Contemporary Art," The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center, The Woodlands, TX[33]

2001 "Sultry," Houston Community College, Houston, TX[33]

Noted collections[edit]

Pesterer Contemporary Fine Art, Zurich, Switzerland[37]

The Seavest Collection of Contemporary Realism, New York, NY, USA[38]

The Seven Bridges Foundation, Greenwich, CT, USA[4]

Howard A. Tullman, Chicago, IL, USA[39]


2012 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant[5][40]

2011 Finalist, Hunting Art Prize[2]

2009 Finalist, Hunting Art Prize[2]

Work featured in[edit]

2013 "Roadster Reflections." American Art Collector, edited by Joshua Rose, Issue #89. March.[41]

2012 Nob Hill Gazette, Front Cover. June.[42]

2010 "Metal Beauty." American Art Collector, edited by Joshua Rose, Issue #61. November.[43]

2009 “Heavy Metal.” American Art Collector, edited by Joshua Rose, Issue #47. September.[44]

2009 "Illustration: Cadillac (detail)," Harper's Magazine, Front Cover. August.[1]

2008 Oranges & Sardines: Summer 2008, by David Krump, Andy Nicholson, Meghan Punschke, and Didi Melendez. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.[45][46]

2008 New American Paintings: Juried Exhibitions in Print, Western Edition, Issue #78. Juror: Andrea Karnes, Curator, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX.[47]

2005 New American Paintings: Juried Exhibitions in Print, Western Edition, Issue #60. Juror: Fereshteh Daftari, Former Curator, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.[48]


  1. ^ a b c Kelley, Cheryl (August 2009). "Illustration: Cadillac (Detail)". Harper's Magazine: Front Cover. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Cheryl Kelley Bio" (PDF). Scott Richards Contemporary Art. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  3. ^ a b c d "Cheryl Kelley - Biography - Bernarducci.Meisel.Gallery". Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  4. ^ a b "Dan Russell on Twitter". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  5. ^ a b c "Cheryl Kelley - Scott Richards Contemporary Art". Scott Richards Contemporary Art. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  6. ^ a b c "10 Masters of Photorealism". 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  7. ^ a b c OKCMOA (2013-02-19), OKCMOA Interview with Cheryl Kelley, retrieved 2016-06-25
  8. ^ "Vintage Cars Glimmer with Stunning Reflections in Hyper-Realistic Painting Series". 2015-01-06. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  9. ^ a b c Baldwin, Rosecrans. "Chrome - The Morning News". The Morning News. The Morning News LLC. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  10. ^ "Hyperrealistic oil paintings of cars by Cheryl Kelley - Beauty will save". 2013-04-03. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  11. ^ Cheryl Kelley (2009-12-30), Cheryl Kelley Paints, retrieved 2016-06-30
  12. ^ "Cheryl Kelley's Classic Muscle Cars Paintings | Yatzer". 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  13. ^ "Cheryl Kelley: Detailed - San Francisco, CA - on Thu Jun 7, 2012 at Scott Richards Contemporary Art |". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  14. ^ Singman-Aste, Michael. "Cheryl Kelley's "Detailed": Cars We Would F**k". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  15. ^ a b Miller, Aaron (2015-01-26). "Meet The Most Photo-Realistic Automotive Artist In America". Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  16. ^ "Bernarducci-Meisel Gallery, New York, NY | Photorealism". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  17. ^ Angeles, Jonathan Novak Contemporary Art | Los. "PHOTOREALISM / THE EVERYDAY ILLUMINATED". Jonathan Novak Contemporary Art Blog. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  18. ^ Baldwin, Rosecrans (2008-12-15). "The Digital Ramble | Geared Up". The Moment. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  19. ^ Sasha (2010-08-24). "Heavy Metal". Beautiful/Decay. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  20. ^ "Weird Twist: Lady Paints Hyper Realistic Muscle Cars". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  21. ^ "Cheryl Kelley - Tangent Contemporary Art". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  22. ^ "ArtSlant - June 9th - July 8th, Joshua Liner Gallery, Matthew Brandt, David Ellis, Sam Friedman, Evan Hecox, James Hoff, Mark Innerst, Cheryl Kelley, Justine Kurland, Jim Mangan, Eileen Quinlan, Ed Ruscha, Alec Soth, Brea Souders, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Penelope Umbrico, William Wegman, Wayne White, Letha Wilson". ArtSlant. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  23. ^ "ArtSlant - April 2nd, 2015 - April 25th, 2015, Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, Hans Van de Bovenhamp, Alexandra Karram, Cheryl Kelley, Kristen Kay Thoen". ArtSlant. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  24. ^ "The Art of Collecting (Catalog)" (PDF). Flint Institute of Arts. Flint Institute of Arts ( Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  25. ^ "ArtSlant - May 1st, 2014 - May 31st, 2014, Scott Richards Contemporary Art, Martin DiGirolamo, Chris Dorosz, Cheryl Kelley, Simon Monk, Valentin Popov, Peter and Madeline Powell, Mel Ramos, Suzy Smith". ArtSlant. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  26. ^ "ArtSlant - January 9th, 2014 - February 27th, 2014, Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, Luigi Benedicenti, Roberto Bernardi, Paul Caranicas, Antonio Cazorla, Ester Curini, Hubert Delartigue, David Dewey, David Eichenberg, Gus Heinze, Charles Jarboe, Park Hyung Jin, Cheryl Kelley, Sharon Moody, Adam Normandin, Matthew Pierog, Tjalf Sparnaay, Raphaella Spence, Bernardo Torrens, Doug Webb". ArtSlant. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  27. ^ "ArtSlant - January 2nd, 2014 - February 27th, 2014, Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, Luigi Benedicenti, Roberto Bernardi, Hubert de Lartigue, Guz Heinze, Park Hyung Jin, Cheryl Kelley, Peter Maier, Sharon Moody, Randall Rosenthal, Raphaella Spence, Bernardo Torrens". ArtSlant. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  28. ^ "Photorealism: The Everyday Illuminated - Jonathan Novak Contemporary Art". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  29. ^ "ArtSlant - June 6th, 2013 - July 19th, 2013, Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, Luigi Benedicenti, Robert o Bernardi, Paul Caranicas, Hilo Chen, Ester Curini, Hubert de Lartigue, David Dewey, David Eichenberg, Mark Goings, Gus Heinze, Charles Jarboe, Park Hyung Jin, Cheryl Kelley, Leonard Koscianski, Sharon Moody, Robert Neffson, Adam Normandin, Matthew Pierog, Randall Rosenthal, Tjalf Sparnaay, Raphaella Spence, Bernardo Torrens, Nathan Walsh, Doug Webb". ArtSlant. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  30. ^ "ArtSlant - January 15th, 2010 - February 20th, 2010, David Klein Gallery, Timothy Buwalda, Liz Cohen, Cheryl Kelley". ArtSlant. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  31. ^ "Skidmore Contemporary exhibit highlights Route 66". 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  32. ^ "ArtSlant - March 30th, 2009 - May 31st, 2009, Scott Richards Contemporary Art, John Baeder, Tom Blackwell, Thomas Boone, Robert Gniewek, Ralph Goings, James Gucwa, Gus Heinze, Cheryl Kelley, Ron Kleeman, Bertrand Meniel, Cesar Santander". ArtSlant. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  33. ^ a b c d e f "Lyons Wier Gallery - Artist Resume". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  34. ^ "FOTOFEST2008". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  35. ^ "Lyons Wier Ortt Contemporary Art (Exhibitor) in New York, NY". International Contemporary Art. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  36. ^ "ArtSlant - June 15th, 2007 - July 7th, 2007, Phantom Galleries LA Beverly Hills, Deborah Fisher, Whitey Flagg, Adam Harteau, Cheryl Kelley, Michael Markowsky, Doug Martin, Blue McRight, Joel Morrison, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Reynolds, Ed Ruscha, Salvatore Scarpitta". ArtSlant. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  37. ^ "Pesterer Contemporary Fine Arts | Künstler". Pesterer Contemporary Fine Arts. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  38. ^ "Cheryl Kelley | Works | Seavest Collection". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  39. ^ "". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  40. ^ "Cheryl Kelley | Works | Pollock Krasner Image Collection". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  41. ^ Rose, Joshua, ed. (March 2013). "Roadster Reflections". American Art Collector (89): 84. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  42. ^ "Painting by Cheryl Kelley". Nob Hill Gazette: Front Cover. June 2012. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  43. ^ Rose, Joshua, ed. (November 2010). "Metal Beauty". American Art Collector (61): 170. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  44. ^ Rose, Joshua, ed. (September 2009). "Heavy Metal". American Art Collector (47): 126. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  45. ^ ""Oranges & Sardines" by Krump, Nicholson, Punschke & Menendez". CreateSpace. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  46. ^ Krump, David; Nicholson, Andy; Punschke, Meghan; Menendez, Didi (2008-06-03). Oranges and Sardines. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 1438234422.
  47. ^ "78 | New American Paintings". Retrieved 2016-06-30.
  48. ^ "60 | New American Paintings". Retrieved 2016-06-30.

External links[edit]


Fan Collections[edit]