On December 21, 1982, Atelier Circulaire was founded by Kittie Bruneau, Irénée Belley, Louis-Pierre Bougie, Catherine Farish, Liliane Fortier, Tin-Yum Lau, Jean Léger and Pierre-Léon Tétrault. Later, the presence of François Xavier Marange, artist and master printer trained in European printmaking culture, launched the studio. Together, the members shaped the mission of Atelier Circulaire: to create a "platform" for the transmission of traditional printmaking and work towards an illuminated rehabilitation of this artistic practice within Montreal and beyond. The gallery received solo and group exhibitions and in 1986, regular programming was established.
In 1990, Atelier Circulaire inaugurated a new location at 40 rue Molière. Boasting a much larger space, the studio was then more efficiently organized. They were able to establish more defined workspaces, an exhibition space, an acid room, a drying room and a shop for the purchasing of specialized printmaking supplies. An administrative coordinator was hired in 1991. The year 1994 marked the inauguration of a new lithography section, established by Christian Le Poul, Mel Boyaner and Pascal Lédée. Atelier Circulaire began to welcome its first artists in residence from abroad.
In 2001, La Biennale Voir Grand, a contest of large format printmaking open to Canadian artists was created.
In 2002, Atelier Circulaire moved to the fifth floor of 5445 de Gaspé in a large and bright ten thousand square foot space. Seeking to diversify its practice of graphic arts and to adapt to new modes of production, a new digital printing workshop was established in 2005, which allowed Atelier Circulaire to update its facilities, reflect new trends in the world of printed arts and encourage the constant redefinition of printmaking in the field of visual arts.
In January 2008, the Atelier Circulaire Gallery moved to a new exhibition space on the ground floor of the same building, creating greater visibility and accessibility.
In May 2014, the Gallery, along with five other galleries (OPTICA, le Centre Clark, Dazibao, Diagonale and Occurrence), constituted the De Gaspé Complex, a new major artistic centre in the Mile-End district of Montreal. This new and improved space then offered artists twice as much hanging space as our old gallery thanks to a system of movable walls.
This project was made possible thanks to financial support through a partnership between the Ministry of Culture and Communications of Quebec and the City of Montreal to safeguard artists' studios in Montreal. The De Gaspe project is led by the group Pied Carré, a non-profit association of artists, artisans, workers and cultural organizations.