Founded in 1966 by artist Pierre Ayot (1943-1995) with the aim of allowing creators to explore with greater freedom the various printmaking processes, the centre was first known as Atelier libre 848, then Graff, centre de conception graphique (1974), and finally Atelier Graff (2011). As one of Canada’s very first artist-run centres, it adopted from the outset a cooperative structure that promoted exchange of ideas and expertise between creators. Graff’s distinctive inventiveness and avant-garde thinking would endure for over five decades.
Several key events punctuated Atelier Graff’s great history: the production in the 70s of major livres d’artistes (Pilulorum, Graffofones, Corridart 1976, pour la liberté d’expression, etc.); a retrospective at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the publication of the book Le monde selon Graff for the centre’s 20th anniversary; and the creation of the Prix Graff, which has been awarded to 15 mid-career artists between 1995 and 2011 – artists like Thomas Corriveau, BGL, Michel de Broin and Raphaëlle de Groot. The centre has also curated several exhibitions that secured its key role in the development of printmaking practices, and has created many residency projects for emerging artists (projet insertion) and visiting foreign creators. In 2016, Graff celebrated its 50th anniversary with a bang by joining forces with le Cabinet, espace de production photographique and settling down in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, in one of Ateliers créatifs Montréal’s buildings. In February of 2017, Atelier Graff officially changed its name to L’imprimerie, centre d’artistes.