They say that that if we want to get a good night’s sleep, our bedroom needs to be dedicated only to that and love-making and nothing that might stimulate thinking, even reading. But stumbling on photos of several artists in bed made us realize that we love, and miss, the idea of bed as relaxing, creative outpost and retreat outfitted with what we need to feed our heads and fuel creativity. Kahlo, Matisse and Dali simply moved tables alongside that would accommodate what they were into at the time. There are no little, matching, officially-bedside tables so common in bedrooms these days.

We love the big table alongside Frida Kahlo’s bed in her bedroom at Casa Azul (at top) with its stacks of books, a miniature doll’s bed, and other items she needed. When she was unwell or convalescing, an easel was often rigged over her so she could paint as she lay in bed.

As Matisse’s health declined, he famously worked from bed, employing an adjustable rolling table as a spacious work surface, along with other pieces of furniture that held books, stationary, a radio, art materials…


His space was fluid, changing according to his needs and always, somehow, looking wonderful.

Artist Art Print featuring the photograph Henri Matisse In Bed by Clifford Coffin
Henri Matisse in Bed by Clifford Coffin, Conde Nast Store.

Salvador Dali sometimes worked from his bed in the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. The big table next of him is about the size of Kahlo’s, and looks to be a room service cart. An ample table on wheels would be just the thing for a spacious moveable bed table.


The artists basically set up “camps” in their bedrooms, moving furniture and surrounding themselves with everything they needed at the time.

Decades later, Donald Judd chose to live really low with pallet-beds on the floor which, along with the floor, doubled as expansive bedside tables…

Donald Judd Spaces: Judd Foundation New York & Texas

Top photo: Gisèle Freund

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