Chip Kidd’s novel The Cheese Monkeys, designed as well by him, sports a printed fore-edge. When the book is closed, the fore-edge is blank. Fanned in one direction, it shows the sentence as seen in the photo below.
Fanned in the opposite direction, the fore-edge displays another phrase: “Good Is Dead”. The printing process is well described in a 2004 video by Graphics Studio|Institute for Research in Art about the making of Ed Ruscha’s fore-edge book Me and The.
This is similar to traditional fore-edge painting. Much of what is worth knowing about fore-edge painting can be learned from Martin Frost’s QuickTime Movie-rich website, but if you are a fan of the Folger Shakespeare Library, its holdings yield some outstanding examples under the hand of Erin Blake.
Jeff Weber’s book Annotated Dictionary of Fore-edge Painting Artists & Binders is probably the lengthiest treatment available on the subject. Hear him discuss his work here. Weber, who commissioned artwork from Frost, Margaret Allport (Costa) and Clare Brooksbank, has a particularly well-written article at the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers’ site.
Phillip J. Pirages, an antiquarian bookseller, provides an enlightening and entertaining talk on fore-edge painting of the 18th century and shows a superb example of the London binders Taylor & Hessey’s work — a two-volume set of the works of Alexander Pope, bound in red morocco leather and decorated on the fore-edges with scenes of Twickenham and Windsor.
The point of this bookmark is not merely to share a curiosity but to use that narrow, hidden curiosity as an illustration of the boundaries of book art and the book arts.