Dr Staff is currently Reader in Fine Art as well as Course Leader for the MA Fine Art and Senior Lecturer in 2D Studio Practice and Curation. He has taught at the University of Northampton since 2003, having completed his PhD in Fine Art (Painting) at Nottingham Trent University and his MFA (Distinction) at the University of Ulster.
Craig’s research challenges the assumption that ‘practice’ and ‘theory’ are mutually exclusive, a methodology that informs his teaching and postgraduate supervision. This approach builds on his early research, which sought to examine how a particular model of painting is able to refer to its own status and condition.
Craig is on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Contemporary Painting.
Dr Staff teaches theory and practice-based modules across the BA Fine Art and MA Fine Art programmes. He is interested in how students engage with ‘theory’ in terms of their studio practice. His research challenges the assumption that ‘practice’ and ‘theory’ are mutually exclusive. This methodology informs his teaching, wherein students are asked to consider how they might engage in a theoretical form of practice and, equally, how they might ‘practice’ theory.
Dr Staff’s recent research has been geared towards the analysis of how painting has been able to assert itself as a legitimate form of enquiry within a critically discursive and divergent milieu.
Recent research includes After Modernist Painting: The History of a Contemporary Practice (I.B. Tauris, February 2013), a publication representing the critical re-evaluation of the contested nature of the painting medium over the last 50 years. As a peer-reviewed, single-authored publication, After Modernist Painting: The History of a Contemporary Practice examines issues that pertained to painting during the period in question rather than the practice of art per se, as previous studies have attempted to do. This research examines debates that inform the practice of painting today and builds upon findings of the previous study, Modernist Painting and Materiality (McFarland, April 2011).
Other recent publications have sought to critically engage with certain historiographies that have been constructed around the production and reception of art broadly within the context of late or so-called ‘high’ modernism. These have included “Embodiment, Ambulation and Duration” in Modes of Spectating, (Intellect, 2009) and “A Poetics of Becoming: The Mythography of Cy Twombly” in Contemporary Art and Classical Myth, (Ashgate 2011). “Towards a Differential Ontology of Painting,” my contribution to A Future for Modernism? The Possibilities of Re-inhabiting an Abandoned Critical Position, (MIRIAD, 2007), was subsequently translated into Japanese by Katsumoto Ishizaki, curator of the Mie Prefectural Art Museum in Mie, Japan and published in 2009 in the Japanese art journal, Rear.
He is currently preparing Monochrome: Darkness and Light in Contemporary Art, the first account of the monochrome’s continued relevance within contemporary art. The forthcoming publication (under contract with I.B.Tauris) will present a particular account of the monochrome’s presence within the multifarious nature of art today. Also under preparation are “Burrowing Under the Apparent: The Blindfold Drawings of Claude Heath,” in On Not Looking, (ed. Frances Guerin) and “Rubbing Against the Grain: Eleanore Mikus and American Modernism c. 1961” inTransitional Generations: American Women Artists, 1935 to 1965, (ed. Helen Langa and Paula Wisotzki), due to be published by Ashgate in 2014.
His research also engages with debates that are organised around the currency of drawing. In 2011 he co-curated a group exhibition of drawing entitled The 43 Uses of Drawing at the Rugby Museum and Art Gallery in Warwickshire. The curatorial premise of the exhibition was to examine the cross disciplinary status of drawing as both an activity and a form of visual communication. Critical responses included an exhibition review in the fine art periodical Studio International (September 2011).
- Staff, C. (2017) Teaching painting in the expanded field: positioning, pedagogy and practice. In: Hartshorne, I., Moloney, D. and Quaife, M. (eds.) Hartshorne, Ian, Moloney, Donal and Quaife, Magnus Teaching Painting: How Can Painting Be Taught in Art Schools? London: Black Dog.
- Ballinger, S., Elcoat, E., Leahy, C., Tobot, M., Tomos, E. and Staff, C. (2016) Time, Chemistry, Chance and Human Design. Northampton: The University of Northampton. 9781906398156.
- Staff, C. (2015) Burrowing under the apparent: the blindfold drawings of Claude Heath. In: Guerin, F. (ed.) Guerin, Frances On Not Looking: The Paradox of Contemporary Visual Culture. New York: Routledge. pp. 123-138.
- Staff, C. (2015) Craig Staff writes on ‘Real Painting’. Abcrit: discourses on abstract painting and sculpture. July 2015 [Online blog]
- Staff, C. (2015) Monochrome: Darkness and Light in Contemporary Art. London: I.B.Tauris. 9781784530488.
- Staff, C. (2015) Painting qua painting (as noun and verb). Online: Castlefield Gallery.
- Staff, C. (2015) Such clues and such obligations. Symposium presented to: The Sketchbook Today, The University of Northampton, 16 June 2015. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. (2015) Teaching painting in the expanded field: positioning, pedagogy and practice. Paper presented to: Teaching Painting, Whitworth Museum, Manchester, 29-30 October 2015. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. (2015) The cultivation of (difficult) surfaces or “I know that’s a tree”. Invited Presentation presented to: Talk to accompany the exhibition Real Painting, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, 11 July 2015. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. (2013) After Modernist Painting: The History of a Contemporary Practice. London: I.B.Tauris. 9781780761794.
- Staff, C. (2013) Along heuristic lines: drawing and the interpreted world. Symposium presented to: The Insistence of Drawing, The University of Northampton, 11 July 2013. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. (2013) Painting and performance. I.B.Tauris Blog.
- Staff, C. (2013) Painting of the week: 63. I.B. Tauris Blog.
- Staff, C. (2013) Painting of the week: 67. I.B. Tauris Blog.
- Staff, C. (2013) Painting of the week: 69. I.B. Tauris Blog.
- Cureton, P., Staff, C. and Clark, R. (2013) Rhythm/Presence. Exhibit at: Rhythm/Presence. The Centre for Recent Drawing (C4RD), London, 06-16 March 2013. Also exhibited at: Drawing Project, IADT (Institute of Art, Design & Technology) Dublin, 20 March – 8 April 2013; CUBE Gallery, Manchester, 22 April – 9 May 2013; RIBA Hub (Royal Institute of British Architects) Manchester, 22 April – 9 May 2013. [Exhibition curators]
- Staff, C. (2011) A Poetics of becoming: the mythography of Cy Twombly. In: Wallace, I. L. and Hirsh, J. (eds.) Wallace, Isabelle Loring and Hirsh, Jennie Contemporary Art and Classical Myth. Farnham: Ashgate. pp. 43-55.
- Staff, C. (2011) Modernist Painting and Materiality. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. 9780786447145.
- Staff, C. and Cureton, P. (2011) The 43 Uses of Drawing. Exhibit at: The 43 Uses of Drawing. Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Rugby, Warwickshire, 06 September – 30 October 2011. [Exhibition curators]
- Staff, C. (2010) Ancient Egyptian Art; Inspecting the Fields for Nebamun; Abstract Expressionism; Mark Rothko, Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red), 1949, Mark Rothko; The Big Night Down the Drain, 1962-63, Georg Baselitz; European Lyrical Abstraction; Nice, 1954 Nicolas De Stael; Portable War Memorial, 1968, Ed Kienholz; Neo-Expressionism; Café Deutschland (Lift/Tremble/Back), 1984 Jorg Immendorf. In: Farthing, S. (ed.) Farthing, Stephen Art: The Whole Story. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 28-547.
- Staff, C. (2009) Embodiment, ambulation and duration. In: Oddey, A. and White, C. (eds.) Oddey, Alison and White, Christine Modes of Spectating. Bristol: Intellect. 0-0.
- Staff, C. (2009) Natural Responses – Transformations. Chair presented to: X6 Transformations Seminar Day, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, 12 October 2009. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. and Cureton, P. (2009) Of blood, of trade, authority, agency: sought after forms and drawing today. Paper presented to: Association of Art Historians (AAH) 35th Annual Conference and Bookfair, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2-4 April 2009. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. and Cureton, P. (2009) The life of Paolo Uccello: drawing transitions through curriculums. Paper presented to: Transitions: Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Northampton, 13 May 2009. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. (2009) What is an artist? Invited Presentation presented to: What is an artist?, Milton Keynes Gallery, 28 May 2009. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. (2009) 絵画の示差的存在論のための覚書* Towards a differential ontology of painting. Rear 21.
- Staff, C. (2008) ‘Speaking in the vernacular: insularity, British art and modernism’. In: Osgerby, W., Esser-Hall, G., Myers, M. and Staff, C. (eds.) Osgerby, Wendy, Esser-Hall, Gaby, Myers, Margot and Staff, Craig Tracing Britishness: Exploring the Notion of ‘Britishness’ in the 21st Century by Tracing Themes of Stoicism, Nostalgia, Insularity and Ourselves and Others Through a Selection of Works from the Rugby Collection. Rugby: Rugby Art Gallery and Museum.
- Staff, C. and Seki, T. (2008) Returning by a Shorter Path. Exhibit at: Returning by a Shorter Path. Avenue Gallery, 27 October – 21 November 2008.
- Staff, C. and Cureton, P. (2008) Without The Walls Which Do Not Last. Exhibit at: Without The Walls Which Do Not Last. Avenue Campus Gallery, University of Northampton, 22 September – 17 October 2008. [Exhibition curators]
- Staff, C. (2008) [Contribution]. In: Farthing, S. (ed.) Farthing, Stephen 501 Great Artists: A Comprehensive Guide to the Giants of the Art World. New York: Barron’s Educational Series.
- Staff, C. (2007) An e-mail conversation between Slavka Sverakova and Craig Staff, May 2007. CIRCA Art Magazine. 0263-9475. Online article
- Staff, C. (2007) Embodiment, ambulation and duration: the coalescent space of painting. Invited Presentation presented to: Modes of Spectating Conference, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 30 March 2007. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. (2007) Notes towards a differential ontology of painting. In: Sweet, D. (ed.) Sweet, David A Future for Modernism? The Possibilities of Re-inhabiting an Abandoned Critical Position. Manchester: MIRIAD. 9781905476169. pp. 38-49.
- Staff, C. (2006) Drawing Itself, Drawing Space. Exhibit at: Drawing Itself, Drawing Space. Southwell Artspace, Southwell, Nottingham, 2 September – 15 October 2006.
- Flexen, C. and Staff, C. (2006) Marking Movements – new drawings by Catherine Flexen and Craig Staff. Exhibit at: Marking Movements. Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery, 28 January – 11 March 2006.
- Staff, C. (2006) Recollection. Exhibit at: ReCollection. Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, 28 March – 25 June 2006.
- Staff, C. (2006) Towards a differential ontology of painting. Paper presented to: A Future for Modernism? : The Possibilities of Re-inhabiting an Abandoned Critical Position, APT Gallery, Deptford, London, 17 March 2006. (Unpublished)
- Staff, C. (2006) [Contribution]. In: Farthing, S. (ed.) Farthing, Stephen 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die. London: Cassell.
- Staff, C. (2004) Painting apart from itself. Dwelling. 1741-1467.
- Staff, C. (2004) ‘Extended Painting’ at Victoria Miro. CIRCA Art Magazine. 108(Summer), pp. 88-89. 0263-9475.
- Staff, C. (2003) As Long As It Takes. Exhibit at: As Long As It Takes. Pumphouse Gallery, London, 19 March – 11 May 2003.