Smith’s composition inventively blends aspects of American Indian design and geometric abstraction. Born to part Cherokee parents in the Oklahoma Territory, Smith grew up among the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations. The colors and forms in this work evoke traditional Pueblo design, including zigzag patterns on pottery (often symbolizing rain clouds), and stepped ceremonial architecture, called "kivas." The grid in Accent Black also shows the influence of Piet Mondrian, whose work Smith initially saw at Albert E. Gallatin’s Gallery of Living Art at New York University.
Inscription: Signed and dated (verso): Leon P. Smith/ 1949
Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Lejwa, New York (by 1970–71; their gift to MMA)
New York. Pinacotheca Gallery. "Leon P. Smith," May 13–28, 1949.
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "Post–Mondrian Painters in America, 1949," May 16–June 11, 1949, no catalogue.
New York. Galerie Chalette. "Leon Polk Smith: Geometric Paintings, 1945–1953," November 7–December 1970, not in brochure.
Brooklyn Museum. "Leon Polk Smith: American Painter," September 29, 1995–January 7, 1996, unnumbered cat.