What is Fore-Edge Book Painting?

Altered books and artist books are mediums many artists are working in today but many are not creating fore-edge paintings on books.  Fore-edge painting requires a good aptitude for painting as a scene is painted on the edges of the book’s pages.

Fore-edge painting is done two different ways. The first includes painting on edges that have been fanned and the second on edges that are closed.  The first method requires the book edge to be fanned to see the painting and in the second the painting is on the closed edge. Either way, the result is a beautiful miniature work of art.

It’s too bad  there is not much published on this fascinating method of painting but you can read about it and see it on the web site at the Rare Books Department of the Boston Public Library. This website highlights a special collection of more than 200 high-resolution images of fore-edge paintings.

Featured Works section provides additional information about selected books, including detail shots and a video of the book as it is fanned to display the hidden artwork. Anywhere on the site, you may click on an image to view a larger version. A series of articles written by leading experts in the field, provide historical and curatorial insight into fore-edge painting.

Read more about fore-edge painting here.

A gallery of fore-edge book images on flickr.


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