In 1948 Ellsworth Kelly moved to Paris where he would stay until 1954 beguiled by French art and culture. He haunted the museums and other institutions. Through his cultural archeology, his own unique style began to take shape. Diane Waldman writes,
"When Kelly returned to the United States and settled in New York in 1954, abstract art meant something altogether different to him than it did to American abstract artists in the 1930s or to the new generation of abstractionists, the Abstract Expressionists. As an American in Paris, he was considered an outsider, and this feeling was reinforced by his interest in early European Modernism rather than in the movement championed by artists such as Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulages" (D. Waldman, Ellsworth Kelly, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1996, p. 10).
Jessie pays homage to one of Kelly's primary influences from those years abroad: Henri Matisse. Jessie is a symphony of color and form interpreting Matisse's late works of cut-out paper.