“All my life, I had a need to think painting,” said the Russian painter Nicolas de Staël, “to paint in order to liberate myself from all the impressions, all the feelings, and all the anxieties of which the only solution I know is painting.” Stäel, who relocated to France in 1938, suffered from lifelong depression, which critical success did not alter. He moved between abstract compositions of thickly applied paint and elegantly austere landscapes and still lifes. In the early 1950s, demand for his work increased dramatically. Sadly, he committed suicide in 1955, at age 41. The Pompidou exhibition presents 25 works by this troubled master. —E.C.