André Borderie (1923-1998) was an energetic French painter, sculptor and ceramist, an ardent experimentalist with form whose work has attracted renewed interest by connoisseurs in the last several years. Borderie was an important protagonist in the 20th-century revival of the traditional art of tapestry-making initiated by artist Jean Lurçat. What the French modernists correctly perceived in this old-fashioned, labor-intensive, pre-industrial craft was the ability of a tapestry to deploy bold compositions and rich colors along with an endearing sense of warmth, avoiding the coolness and glossiness of the surface of an oil painting -- and with an almost three-dimensional presence that few paintings can match.
Handwoven in wool at the Aubusson workshop of the Legoueix family, "Maison d'Or" (circa 1968) is a brilliant high-modernist tapestry created with the same very highly skilled and incredibly laborious techniques that have made Aubusson an icon of French cultural heritage since the 14th century. "House of Gold" is a large (almost eight feet long) and graphically powerful abstract image, with all the wonderful texture that results from being handwoven from countless individual strands of colored wool.
After winning the French National Grand Prix for tapestry in 1962, Borderie went on to have six one-man exhibitions, between 1963 and 1979, at the La Demeure gallery, the preeminent French art dealer specializing in tapestries. Borderie's tapestries were made in tiny editions ("Maison d'Or" was made in an edition of three, of which this example is number two) and were fashionable in the 1960s and 1970s not only in well-appointed Parisian apartments, but also in prestigious French government buildings throughout the world.
This example retains its "bolduc", the traditional certificate of origin -- personally signed by the artist -- that for years has been sewn on to the back of every genuine tapestry made in Aubusson. "Maison d'Or" is also signed with Borderie's woven signature at the lower right hand corner of the piece. (Woven into the lower left-hand corner of the piece is the monogram of Pierre Legoueix, the director of the family atelier.) On the reverse of the tapestry (see image 5) there is also a woven edition number (2/3) to the left of the white "bolduc" certificate. Finally, there are several brass rings sewn onto the back of the tapestry, just below the top edge, and also at each of the two bottom corners, which are provided for securely hanging this substantial piece on the wall.