Huffpost Arts

11 African American Artists Who Helped Shape The Civil Rights Movement

Posted: Updated:

In the 1960s and 1970s the American nation was forever changed as the demand for civil rights inspired protest, unity and radical action. As with many periods of political and social upheaval, artists were at the forefront of the revolution, contributing vibrant imagery to document and inspire the country at large.

Amongst those artists were sculptors and painters and assemblagists, those working in figuration, abstraction and everything in between. Some were outwardly political while others expressed their empowerment through art-making for its own sake. The opinions expressed, in clay, paint, pen and wood, communicated the pains and truths of a crucial time in American history. Their hopeful and powerful messages remain as important as ever today.

An upcoming auction at Swann Galleries titled "The Shape of Things to Come: African-American Fine Art" will highlight the artists whose bravery and creativity left an indelible mark on history, in bold shapes and daring colors. The sale features over 90 pieces from African American, civil rights-era artists, as well as contemporary black artists including Lorna Simpson and Kara Walker.

Below, see 11 artists whose visions became the visions of the American people. These are the artists who shaped the civil rights movement as we know it today.

  • Barbara Jones-Hogu
    Barbara Jones-Hogu, UNITE, color screenprint, 1971. Estimate $3,000 to $5,000.
  • Alvin D. Loving Jr.
    Alvin D. Loving, Jr., Untitled, acrylic on canvas, circa 1969-70. Estimate $30,000 to $40,000.
  • Barkley L. Hendricks
    Barkley L. Hendricks, Sergio, oil and acrylic on canvas, 1972. Estimate $80,000 to $120,000.
  • Noah Purifoy
    Noah Purifoy, Untitled (Standing Figure), assemblage construction, circa 1968-70. Estimate $60,000 to $90,000.
  • William T. Williams
    William T. Williams, Truckin, acrylic on canvas, 1969. Estimate $75,000 to $100,000.
  • Bob Thompson
    Bob Thompson, Untitled (Reflections), gouache, 1963. Estimate $30,000 to $40,000.
  • Hughie Lee-Smith
    Hughie Lee-Smith, Rooftops, oil on canvas, 1961. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.
  • Marie Johnson-Calloway
    Marie Johnson-Calloway, Witch Doctor I, mixed-media collage, including oil, hair, fur, leather, shell and beads mounted on canvas, 1969. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.
  • Vincent D. Smith
    Vincent D. Smith, Do-Rag Brother, oil and sand on canvas, 1968. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.
  • Walter Williams
    Walter Williams, Southern Landscape, oil and collage on board, 1963-64. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.
  • William Pajaud
    William Pajaud, Sea Bird on Nest, oil on canvas, circa 1970. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.

"The Shape of Things to Come: African-American Fine Art" takes place on June 10.

Also on HuffPost:

30 Black Artists Under 40
Share this
Current Slide

Suggest a correction