Skip to main content


Ron Kleemann

Study for ‘Pecker-Heads’


Watercolor and colored markers on Arches watercolor paper

Sheet: 12-13/16″ x 9″ (31 x 22.9 cm)

Image: 8-1/2″ x 6″ (21.6 x 15.2 cm)

Framed: 17-3/4″ x 15-1/8″ (45.1 x 38.4 cm)

Ron Kleemann (born 1937) is an American Photorealist. Since the 1960s, he has created highly polished works depicting iconic automobiles, motorsports, airplanes, and parades. Kleemann’s sharp images are the result of painterly brushwork visible at close range. Kleemann’s highly technical works bring to life one of the greatest eras of American culture.

Ron Kleemann was born in Bay City, Michigan. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture and Design from the renowned University of Michigan in 1961. Kleemann’s artwork has been exhibited at major artistic institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Kleemann lives in Valatie, New York.


“I’ve always hated the saying “outside the box” because that assumes there is a box. I vary my subjects because there are so many different things I want to express and so many different ways I see to express them. When I first started, all through art school I was a sculptor, but I didn’t just do one kind of sculpture. My pieces varied in size, subject (all abstract), and textures. I switched to painting for two reasons: it requires fewer materials and tools, and it allows me to be more portable.

My first paintings were nonobjective and oddly shaped–I called them “shield paintings.” They are very colorful and still vibrant today, but they bored me soon. I sort of slid into realism, starting out with a combination of Dalí-influenced Surrealism and realism, and suddenly I became interested. I saw how taking pictures and painting the image straight from camera would allow me infinite subject matter, and the technical challenge of making it as real as possible without allowing too much of myself into the canvas gave me huge motivation.

I have painted people dancing; parade balloons; race cars and drivers; souvenir trucks; racing tubs and equipment; airplanes; fire engines; a portrait or two; a cocktail party; dogs; a trolley car; a farmers’ demonstration; a taxicab; building exteriors and interiors; a cement truck; a garbage truck; a racing truck; a couple of ambulances; street scenes; helicopters; police cars and motorcycles; a Galveston , Texas, souvenir shop; and some others I can’t remember right now. But each painting and each subject was of interest to me as an icon of time and place. Many of these paintings have people in them, and most have some area of reflection or shine. I love them all.

-Ron Kleemann, from the book Photorealism in the Digital Age © 2013

Citation: Bernarducci, Frank, Harris, Elizabeth K., and Meisel, Louis K. Photorealism in the Digital Age. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2013.

2014 – “Photorealism: The Everyday Illuminated,” Jonathan Novak Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California

2010 – “Hyperrealisme,” Galerie Rive Gauche, Paris, France

2009 – “Picturing America: Photorealism in the 1970s,” Deutsche-Guggenheim Museum, Berlin, Germany

2008 – “Ron Kleemann,” Patrice Trigano GalleryParis, France (solo)

2007/08 – “Icones Americaines,” Galerie Rive Gauche-Marcel Strouk, Paris, France

2005 – “The Nascar Paintings,” The Butler Institute Of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio

2005/06 – “Photorealism,” Elaine Baker Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida

2004/05 – “The NASCAR Paintings,” Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, New York, New York (solo)

2005 – “Cars and Ketchup: Photorealism From the 1960s and 1970s,” The Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

2002 – “Photorealism: The Liff Collection,” Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Arhus, Denmark

2001 – “This is America: American Photorealists,” Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Arhus, Denmkark 2000 – “The Photorealists,” Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, Florida

1998 – “Photorealism”, Jaffe Baker Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida 1997 – “30 Years of Icons,” Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York (solo)

1996 – “Attention to Detail (Realism in All Forms),” Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York

1994 – “Realism In Our Time,” Broden Gallery Ltd., Madison, Wisconsin

1994 – “An American Vision: Photorealism Paintings,” Margulies Taplin Gallery Boca Raton, Florida

1993 – New York Air,” Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York (solo)

1993 – “Really, Real, Realism Show,” Jack Wright Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida

1992 – Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York (solo)

1991 – “Motion as Metaphor – The Automobile in Art,” Virginia Beach Center for the Arts, Virginia

1991 – “In Sharp Focus: Super-Realism,” Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn, New York

1988 – “20th Anniversary (15 in SoHo) – Artists & Movements From Our First Two Decades,” Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York

1987 – “The Urban Landscape,” Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York

1987 – “Realism: The New Generation,” R.H. Love Modern, Chicago, Illinois

1985 – “Realism: Ron Kleemann,” Bay City Council on the Arts, Michigan (solo)

1984 – “Aspects of Realism,” Walter Moos Gallery, Toronto, Canada

1984 – “Through the Looking Glass: Reflected Images in Contemporary Art,” The Heckscher Museum, Huntington, New York

1983 – “10th Anniversary Exhibition,” Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York

1983 – Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York (solo)

1982 – “The Rebounding Surface,” Avery Center for the Arts, The Bard College Center, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York

1981 – “Seven Photorealists From New York Collections,” The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York

1979 – “Selections of Photo-Realist Paintings from New York City Galleries,” Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, St. Francis College, Loretto, Pennsylvania

1978 – “Photo-Realism and Abstract Illusionism,” The Arts & Crafts Center of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1979 – Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York (solo)

1977 – Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana (solo)

1976 – Reed College, Portland, Oregon (solo)

1976 – Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York (solo)

1975 – “Watercolors and Drawings – American Realists,” Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York

1975 – Morgan Gallery, Shawnee Mission, Kansas

1974 – Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York (solo)

1974 – French & Co., New York, NY (solo)

1974 – Taft Museum & Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

1973 – “Realism Now,” Katonah Gallery, New York, New York

1972 – “Sharp-Focus Realism,” Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York

1972 – “The Shape of Realism,” Deson-Zaks Gallery, Chicago, Illinois

1971 – French & Co., New York, New York (solo)

1970 –  Gallery 99, Bay Harbor Islands, Florida