The Colour Circle

The Colour Circle
Bernat Klein

10 December 2016 – 26 March 2017

The Colour Circle features a series of 43 paintings made between 2011 and 2012 by artist and designer Bernat Klein (1922 – 2014). This is the first time Bernat Klein’s work has been shown in the west of Scotland and has been produced by the kind agreement of the Klein family.

The Colour Circle shows Bernat Klein’s love of colour and its influence on his work as a textile designer of couture textiles. Bernat Klein was a major international figure of twentieth-century textile design, and his legacy as an artist, colourist, textile designer and industrialist is unique to Scotland. He lived and worked in the Scottish Borders from the late 1950s, and was responsible for establishing new approaches, not just in the manufacture of Scottish textiles, but also in the way he promoted and communicated his ideas of a design-led business. He produced some of the most beautiful and distinctive textiles of the twentieth-century, which were celebrated by the haute couture collections of fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior and Yves St Laurent. 

Bernat Klein (1922-2014) was born in Serbia, and studied at Leeds University before moving to the Scottish Borders in 1950 as a young designer for the textiles company, Munrospun. In 1952 Bernat Klein set up his first business Colourcraft, and from what he described as ‘fairly basic surroundings’, created his exotic fabrics of hand-dyed mohair known as the ‘Velvet Tweeds’. These and his other couture textiles would become his lasting design signature, sought after by fashion houses including Chanel, Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent. Bernat Klein also wrote two books, Eye for Colour (1965) and Design Matters (1976), which give an insight to his personal and professional life.

Bernat Klein’s archive, consisting of more than 1,800 items ranging from sketches for his designs to finished garments, photographs, catalogues, paintings and tapestries, was acquired by National Museums Scotland, while his textiles archive is at Heriot-Watt University in the Scottish Borders.

Klein was appointed CBE in 1973. He was a member of the Scottish Committee of the Council of Industrial Design (1965–71), and of the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland (1980–87). He retired in 1992 and continued to paint until the week before his death in 2014.