06/05/2014 09:39 am ET Updated Jun 05, 2014

11 African American Artists Who Helped Shape The Civil Rights Movement

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.

civil rights

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



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