Professor Schreyach earned his M.A. degree in art history at the University of Texas at Austin; continued his graduate coursework at Northwestern University; and earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a recipient of predoctoral fellowships from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Getty Research Institute, and has received a Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professorship at the JFK Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität in Berlin.
Professor Schreyach teaches courses on modern art in the United States and Europe from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth century, with an emphasis on modernist painting, criticism, and theory since 1900. His methodological approach combines close attention to historical sources with theoretical models often developed in other fields, such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, and literary criticism.
In his research, Schreyach attempts to understand how the intended visual effects of paintings are conveyed technically, operate culturally, and can be situated historically--as well as how those pictorial effects might be interpreted philosophically. Other areas of expertise include the history of photography; the relationship of art and politics, 1930-1970; methods of art history; and phenomenology.
Schreyach's book, Pollock's Modernism, provides a new interpretation of the art of Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), one that is based on a phenomenological investigation of the pictorial effects of particular paintings. Focusing on major works that span the artist's career – including Mural (1943), Cathedral (1947), Number 1A, 1948, One: Number 31, 1950, and Portrait and a Dream (1953) – Schreyach argues that Pollock's achievement is best understood by attending to how, technically and formally, he instituted certain modes of pictorial address and structures of beholding in his paintings. From this perspective, Pollock is shown to be an artist who transformed the means by which the phenomenological interdependence of sensation and cognition in our embodied experience could be represented. Offering a provocative counter-argument to dominant accounts of Pollock's work, the book advances bold claims about Pollock's intentions as they are expressed in his art, and illuminates what constituted the artist's unique form of modernism at mid-century.
"The Meaning of Feeling." Barnett Newman's "Formalism": A Transatlantic Dialogue with Michael Schreyach & Eva Ehninger. Terra Foundation for America Art, Paris Center. 30 September 2014. Online audio clip.