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Time and narrative in Edvard Munch’s «The Green Room» (1907)

  • Side: 80-91
  • Publisert på Idunn: 2013-06-21
  • Publisert: 2013-06-21

Munch often grouped his images into picture series. «The Green Room» («Det grønne værelset»), 1907 consists of seven paintings. The author discusses how Munch’s fascination with picture series is closely linked to modern notions of time, temporality, narrativity, and developments in new visual entertainment, such as film and cinema. The focus of the article is on the narrative features in «The Green Room», and the series’ unstable qualities are addressed. These engage the spectator, and the images do not create one story, but several stories.

Munch had an enduring interest in series, and exhibiting images together as a whole. In this article I will take a closer look at the possibilities and problems associated with defining the «The Green Room» («Det grønne værelset», 1907), and with the notion of the images as a series. I will focus particularly on the series’ narrative features and temporal aspects. Was this series the result of Munch’s exploration of narrative possibilities and a modernist experiment, or are its unstable qualities the mark of an unfinished picture series or inferior work?

In December 1893 Edvard Munch exhibited 50 paintings, drawings and watercolors at Unter den Linden in Berlin. Amongst these were a group of six paintings listed in the catalogue as Studie zu eine Serie «Die Liebe» – a study for a series titled «Love».1 This was the first time Munch had exhibited a collection of images together as a whole, and it was the beginning of a lifelong interest in creating picture series. Over the next few decades he developed not only «Die Liebe» into the largest of his series, «The Frieze of Life» («Livsfrisen)», but also numerous other series such as «The Green Room».

Munch had an enduring interest in series, and exhibiting images together as a whole. This preoccupied him for most of his career, and he created a large number of them.2 Grouping images together is such a characteristic feature of Munch’s artistic practice that it demands a closer look.3 Creating picture series was, around 1900, not uncommon for artists. After Claude Monet’s Paris exhibition of fifteen Wheatstacks at Galerie Durand-Ruel in May 1891 there was a ‘series fever’ sweeping through the French art world.4

In this article I will focus on the series «The Green Room», a group of seven paintings likely intended to be viewed as a whole.5 As we shall see, this series differs from many of Munch’s other series because of its vague and very loose structure.6 Nonetheless, viewing images together as a whole makes it possible to order the paintings, and subject them to a structure that creates visual narrative(s). Spectators of art crave coherence.7 They are constantly trying to make sense of what they are seeing, and due to its unstable qualities «The Green Room» has caused some difficulties.8 Traditional picture series, such as Victorian narrative cycles, or William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress (1733), emphasize virtues such as piety, charity, and the sanctity of family life.9 Munch’s «The Green Room» is not a narrative cycle in this traditional sense.

Ill. 1. Edvard Munch: The Murderess, 1907. Oil on canvas, 89 x 63 cm. The Munch Museum (Oslo). Photo: The Munch Museum. © Munch Museum / Munch-Ellingsen Group / BONO 2013.

Munch has not indicated exactly which paintings are to be included in the series, or the order he intended the images to be viewed in. In this article I will take a closer look at the possibilities and problems associated with defining the series, and with the notion of the images as a series. I will argue that Munch’s fascination with picture series is closely linked to modern notions of time, temporality, narrativity, and the developments in new visual entertainment, such as film and cinema. I see the serial trend that Munch was a part of, as a modernist experiment, exploring narrative possibilities.

Ill. 2ྭ4. Edvard Munch’s packing lists. Crate no 9. The Munch Museum. None of them dated. Photo: The Munch Museum.

Although I will make a connection between Munch, «The Green Room» and film, I am not claiming that Munch’s images and series are equal to films: «The Green Room» is not a film. What I am proposing is to not overlook the modern, urban visual culture that Munch was embedded in. Munch was a visually inquisitive and curious artist, and took part in the visual experiences of his time. In the 1890s Munch was developing his ideas on series through the early versions of «Frieze of life». He was seeking ways to tell stories and convey moods beyond the singular image. Film and cinema was such a medium. He has extracted cinematic elements, such as cropping, zooming, and fragmenting to painting, and his series.

What is «The Green Room», and is there a sequence?

«The Green Room» is the title used for a group of paintings from 1907. They are considered to be a series, but were never exhibited as such in Munch’s lifetime. There is no way of knowing the order in which they were intended to be viewed. The paintings can be organized in many different sequences, but seem to elude being put in one coherent order. Previous research on the series has not been able to establish a sensible narrative structure. Some attempts have been made to define the extent of the series, but it remains ambiguous. In the last few decades many paintings from the Warnemünde-period (1907–08) have been assumed to be a part of «The Green Room».10 However, only one painting is consistently included in the series by all sources: The Murderess (Woll 786, ill. 1).11 Two other paintings are often included in the definitions of the series, Zum süβen Mädel (Woll 781, ill. 5) and Jealousy (Woll 783, ill. 6). Apart from these three paintings there are plenty of variations and uncertainties as to which paintings are, or should be, included in the series.

1ll. 5. Edvard Munch: Zum süβen Mädel, 1907. Oil on canvas, 85 x 130.5 cm, The Munch Museum (Oslo). Photo: The Munch Museum. © Munch Museum / Munch-Ellingsen Group / BONO 2013.

As is often the case, Edvard Munch himself does not contribute much to clearing up doubt. There are a very limited number of primary sources mentioning the series. The most important of these is a packing list in the archives at Munch-museet. It is a list of paintings, grouped into crates, likely written by Munch in preparation for shipment of the paintings to an exhibition. The document (T2742) was probably written in the late autumn of 1908, or early in 1909.12 It is the first document where Munch indicates that some of his paintings belong to a group named «The Green Room». In crate number 9, five of the paintings listed have «det grønne Værelse» added after the title in brackets (ill. 2–4): #3 Jalosi, #8 Jalosi, #14 Mordersken, #28 To Mænd og en Kvinde (Jalosi), #30 To Mænd og en Kvinde. As we can see, the titles are very general, apart from Mordersken. Jalosi (Jealousy) and To Mænd og en Kvinde (Two Men and a Woman) are descriptive titles that could apply to a large number of images painted by Munch. Since Munch does not indicate when these images were painted, all of his œuvre prior to the writing of the packing list can, in theory, be considered. Arne Eggum’s article on «The Green Room» from 1977 has become a crucial piece of research on the series. According to Eggum, Dr. Ludwig Justi, the Director of the Nationalgalerie (Berlin) 1909–33, made written notes when visiting Munch at his home at Ekely in the spring of 1927.13 This was part of the preparations for the upcoming retrospective exhibition of Munch’s works at the Nationalgalerie (Berlin) and Nasjonalgalleriet (Oslo) later that year. During this meeting Munch apparently showed Dr. Justi six paintings belonging to a series: «’Grünes Zimmer’ in Warnemünde zwischen 1907 und 1908».14 From this we can assume that «The Green Room» was to be considered as a pictorial unit, and that it was painted in Warnemünde in 1907 and 1908. The note indicates six paintings, but Eggum only quotes three from the document: Eifersucht (Jealousy), Weinendes Mädchen (Weeping Woman), and Mann und Frau (Man and Woman). It has not yet been possible to locate the specific document that Eggum quotes from. Another document listing the images Dr. Justi was presented with at Ekely has been located, but it does not specify «The Green Room».15

Ill. 6. Edvard Munch: Jealousy, 1907. Oil on canvas, 89 x 82.5 cm. The Munch Museum (Oslo). Photo: The Munch Museum. © Munch Museum / Munch-Ellingsen Group / BONO 2013.

Paintings from The Green Room exhibited together at the retrospective exhibitions in 1927
Nationalgalerie, Berlin: Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo:    
Cat.no. Title Cat.no. Title Title today Woll no.
113 Haus ‘zum süfîen Mädel’ 166 Haus “zum süssen Mädel’ Zum süssen Mädel 781
114 Begierde 167 Begjær Begjær 785
115 Hafi 168 Hat Hat 787
116 Eifersucht 169 Jalousi Sjalusi 783
117 Die Mörderin 170 Mord Mordersken 786

It becomes clear that «The Green Room», as a series, is not a given entity. The documentation for it is slim, as only the packing list is available to us today. Both the packing list, and the images Munch (according to Eggum) showed to Dr. Justi in 1927 indicate to us that «The Green Room» was the name for a new series. However, it was never exhibited in Munch’s lifetime. Some of the images were included in the large retrospective exhibitions in Berlin and Oslo in 1927, but they were not lumped into groups in the exhibition catalogue(s) such as many of the other series («The Frieze of Life», «The Reinhardt-Frieze», etc.)16 The reason for this remains unknown. Possibly Munch was not happy with the result, or the series remained incomplete. The packing list and Dr. Justi’s notes are, however, separated by almost 20 years. Munch apparently had not given up on the project. The problem today is that we do not know exactly which images were meant to be included in the series.

The definition for inclusion in the series can vary according to the criteria being applied. I find the distinct acid green walls and its wallpaper pattern to be the most important criteria for inclusion in the series. In addition the perspective lines, and furniture and props, define the room.17 There are seven paintings that appear to take place in the same interior and have similar green wallpaper on the wall(s): Zum süβen Mädel (Woll 781, ill. 5); Taken by Surprise, (Overraskelsen, Woll 782, ill. 8); Jealousy (Sjalusi, Woll 783, ill. 6); Jealousy (Sjalusi, Woll 784, ill. 9); Desire (Begjær, Woll 785, ill. 10); The Murderess (Mordersken, Woll 786, ill. 1); Hatred (Hat, Woll 787, ill. 11). Some of these seven paintings were exhibited together at the large retrospective exhibitions in 1927 (see table).

From these exhibition catalogues we see that the five images were arranged in the same order at both venues. The listing in the catalogue gives one possible structuring of the images. There are no photographs showing the mounting of the paintings in the exhibitions, so we do not know if the order in the catalogue was applied to the exhibition wall.18 Since there is no set order to the seven paintings in the series, it is possible to structure the series in many ways. With seven paintings there are thus potentially 49 different possibilities.

Temporality and spectacle

In the latter half of the nineteenth century time became standardized, visualized and externalized.19 It was no longer something that was lived, but had to be consulted (wristwatches, train schedules, etc.).20 In the decades prior to 1900, photographer Eadweard Muybridge (1830–1904), and scientist Etienne-Jules Marey (1830–1904) worked on projects attempting to visualize and document movement in time. In their photographic series they were trying to break down human and animal motion into small increments, and thus reveal the full range of movements beyond the capacities of human vision. Although neither Muybridge nor Marey invented film technology, their work has similarities with cinematography.

Ill. 7. Eadweard J. Muybridge: Dropping and lifting handkerchief, ca. 1884Ὅ87 (detail), collotype print, 19.5 x 41.1 cm. From: Marta Braun, Picturing Time. The Work of Etienne-Jules Marey (18301904), 1992.

Muybridge used a number of interconnected cameras to capture the (forward) movement of humans or animals in motion. He usually had 12 cameras photographing the parallel action, called laterals, and up to 24 cameras positioned at an angle of 60 or 90 degrees, called foreshortenings.21 These sequential photographs were mounted as series in horizontal rows on a page, with the laterals in one row, and the foreshortenings in the row below. Viewed in succession on a single page these images reveal the anatomy of movement broken down into individual frozen segments. Since Muybridge’s photographs were separated in individual frames, it was not possible to extrapolate the time expenditure in the motion recorded. The scientific value of Muybridge’s series is therefore limited.

Muybridge appears to have deliberately exploited the spectator’s need for order, coherence and sequential progression. His series of frozen increments of time are not as objective and scientific as they initially appear. They are in many cases amended or incomplete, as there are irregularities in many of them. If a camera failed he would renumber the images, replace the missing images with duplicates from the series, or remove parts of an image in order to maintain an overall aesthetic symmetry.22 An example here is plate 202 in Animal Locomotion: Dropping and lifting a handkerchief. In the bottom row the foreshortening view from behind, image number 3, is a duplicate of image number 1. The positioning of the handkerchief does not correspond with the lateral view positioned above it. The spectator expects the images to show movement, which must take up a certain amount of time, and this time is understood as irreversible.23 The organization of the series in horizontal rows on a page gives the spectator the impression that these images are sequential, and the inconsistencies are overlooked.24 However, we have no guarantee that these plates are not separated in time by hours, days or even weeks.

Ill. 8. Edvard Munch: Taken by Surprise, 1907. Oil on canvas, 85 x 110.5 cm. The Munch Museum (Oslo). Photo: The Munch Museum. © Munch Museum / Munch-Ellingsen Group / BONO 2013.

Unlike Muybridge and Marey’s work, Munch’s «The Green Room» does not document the forward movement of a living being. However, due to the similarities in setting – the green colored interior space – the seven images give the impression of belonging together as a coherent unit. The figures are depicted in a room, the positioning of the figures changes from image to image. This gives us the impression that something is happening, a progression or story. Something is prompting them to move or change. The individual images thus become fragments or increments in what appears to be a narrative. We can see that Muybridge and Munch utilize similar effects to manipulate the spectators’ expectations of their series. Muybridge uses a gridded backdrop, while Munch uses the green walls. Like Muybridge, Munch disrupts our temporal expectations by giving these paintings an impression of visual consistency, sequence and coherence.

The manipulation of the continuity of time, as seen in Muybridge’s work, became a trademark of narrative film. The early pioneers of film making, such as Georges Méliès (1861–1938) explored visual tricks of the eye. By utilizing the cut, and eliminating a segment of time, he made figures disappear, statues come alive, and children duplicate.25 The gaps between the scenes in «The Green Room» are of course cruder than those in Méliès’ films. While Munch has left out seemingly large chunks of information from one image to the next, he is manipulating our expectations with regards to continuity, progression and coherence. Viewed as a whole, Munch’s series creates an expectation of sequencing and narration in the spectator. At the same time there is no apparent narrative, and the spectator’s need for ordering is disrupted.

The understanding of time and temporality was, in the decades prior to 1900 closely linked to the development of new visual entertainment media culminating in the first screening of the Lumière brothers’ films in Paris in December 1895. These developments in visual media were spurred on by the desire for scientists to understand movement in its smallest increments, the standardization and structuring of time in order to adapt to the new demands of industrialization, and the urban spectators’ craving for new visual spectacles.26 The visual spectacles in Paris were not isolated incidences for a privileged few. The fascination with news, scandal, sensation, and visual pleasure was a preoccupation for all classes of Parisians. Some of the more elaborate entertainments were pricy, but there were several possibilities for experiencing visual excitement and scandal. Such as in the illustrated journals, the mutoscope, the morgue, and the wax museum, as well as smaller toys intended for entertainment in the home, such as the praxinoscope and zoetrope. The visual culture spectacle in fin-de-siècle Paris is well documented.27 However, Munch’s knowledge of this is less clear.

We do know that Munch lived in France for extended periods in the late 1880s and 1890s, and in Paris from February 1896. That spring film was the city’s entertainment novelty. Many cafés and entertainment halls started showing films during this period. There were several venues where Parisians could indulge in their craze for new visual excitement, such as the Musée Grévin. This was one of the most popular venues, with its spectacular wax exhibits of current affairs. It also showed Emile Reynard’s Théâtre Optique from 1892. This was a projection of hand drawn images, an early form of animation. By April 1896, Munch had completed playbills for the production of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt at the Théâtre de l’Œuvre.28 It is likely that Munch became familiar with these new forms of visual entertainment, and experienced film first hand that spring.29

What sort of a narrative is «The Green Room»?

Pictorial narratives can either be mono- or poly-phased single images. The latter are uncommon today.30 The mono-phased single image presents the greatest narrative challenge, since it depicts one moment in a story through a single image, and must present a narrative arc within a single scene. An example of this is the painting Ophelia (1851–52, Tate Britain) by John Everett Millais.

1ll. 9. Edvard Munch: Jealousy, 1907(?). Oil on canvas, 57.5 x 84.5 cm. The Munch Museum (Oslo). Photo: The Munch Museum. © Munch Museum / Munch-Ellingsen Group / BONO 2013.

According to Werner Wolf, there are some common characteristics when it comes to narrative picture series: (1) The images in the series must be representational (not abstract); (2) the images in a picture series must show dynamic temporal events (meaning that a static landscape cannot be a narrative), (3) the image must involve characters, and it must contain one or more figures, (4) picture series usually also have titles that further suggest a narrative.31 Not all picture series are narratives, such as allegories of the four seasons, and Monet’s Wheatstacks. Monet’s series lack characters, and do not show dynamic and pregnant moments indicating causal developments. Is «The Green Room» a narrative picture series? The answer is not straightforward. All of the images in this series include figures. Some of the depicted scenes appear to be quite static, such as Hatred. Others, such as Zum süβen Mädel are more difficult to decipher in this respect. It shows two figures seated around a table that are not interacting. A third figure enters the room in the background with more drinks. There have been suggestions that this is a brothel scene.32 If such, the action could indicate that a client (possibly the spectator?) is engaging with a prostitute. However, the scene could also be showing a group around a table, and not indicate any significant cause leading up to the scene, nor a possible resolution thereafter. Some of the images in the series, on the other hand, do indicate causality and chronology. This is the case with The Murderess. The title suggests that someone has been murdered, and the one performing this act is female. In the composition the figure on the couch, to the right, has red blood trickling from his abdomen or groin. The female erect figure is staring at the scene and out of the composition towards the spectator. Something has clearly just happened (a murder), but it is unclear how this situation will progress in the next few moments. The images Desire, Hatred, and The Murderess show us characters that have similar physical characteristics throughout the three images. This creates a visual coherence linking these three images as a sequence. Viewed as a sequence the murder scene could possibly indicate a climax, a resolution or ending.

Ill. 10. Edvard Munch: Desire, 1907. Oil on canvas, 85 x 130 cm. The Munch Museum (Oslo). Photo: The Munch Museum. © Munch Museum / Munch-Ellingsen Group / BONO 2013.

«The Green Room» as a narrative

The paintings were never exhibited together as a series in Munch’s lifetime, and we do not know the order in which they were intended to be viewed. Thus, the series as a text in a narratological reading consists of the paintings in no particular order. This is a purely intellectual exercise since the images, at any given time, will always be in some kind of order. Wherever they are at this particular moment they are placed at a physical point in space, and in relation to the other images in the series (be it stored in the basement at the Munch Museum, or on different walls in exhibitions). The spectator will always experience them in some kind of order. However, this order is not given, and will be different for every individual experiencing the images. This differs from a written text or comic strip. These are linear. A book starts on page one, and ends on the last page. The sequence of the images in «The Green Room» depends on the spectator’s movements.

The seven paintings in the series constitute what Mieke Bal calls the text. In her theory of narratology the so-called story is the content of the text, meaning the specific manner in which the plot elements are ordered, for example, the order in which the events in a book are presented to the spectator if read from beginning to end. As the reader encounters the work, she constructs a logic and chronological order of events. Series of events may not be presented in a temporally chronologic manner in the story. However, the reader is able to entangle this temporal web independently. This chronological reconstruction of events according to a causal logic is, in the theory of narratology, called the fabula.33

The experience of the text is highly individual in «The Green Room», and the story is thus affected. As mentioned, in the three images Desire, Hatred, and The Murderess, the two figures reoccur. They are similarly dressed throughout, and the man and woman’s physiognomy is visually similar. Other than in these three images, paintings in the series do not show figures that reappear. This makes it more difficult to connect them in a logical order and story. There is nothing in the images indicating the passage of time. Since there are no windows in the room we cannot identify the time of day or the weather. In Zum süβen Mädel there are drinks and glasses on the table, and Desire includes a bottle on the table. In The Murderess the table also contains two plates of food, a glass and a piece of fruit (an apple?). This could indicate the sequential progression of a party or a social gathering. In Zum süβen Mädel there are two glasses and one bottle. The figure in the background enters the room holding a tray containing another bottle, thus bringing drink refills to the table. The gathering of these people is therefore still in progress. In Desire, on the other hand, there are no glasses on the table, only a single bottle. The contents on the table do not necessarily indicate a direct relationship between these images, but could be showing the development of a social gathering over drinks. There are, however, no clues in these images indicating which of them logically comes before the other in such a sequence. The lone bottle in Desire could indicate that the image shows a scene prior to the other characters entering the room. It could also be that the scene in Desire shows the room after the characters in Zum süβen Mädel have finished their drinks and left.

Ill. 11. Edvard Munch: Hatred, 1907. Oil on canvas, 47 x 60 cm. The Munch Museum (Oslo). Photo: The Munch Museum. © Munch Museum / Munch-Ellingsen Group / BONO 2013.

In «The Green Room» there are very few elements (other than the green room) linking these scenes. As mentioned, a few can be linked by physical characteristics, or elements like the drinks, but these do not contribute to a definitive structuring order. The causal relations are weak. The murder indicated in The Murderess strongly suggests that Desire and Hatred most likely must precede it. It is not possible to know whether this event is positioned at the beginning, middle or end of the narrative in «The Green Room». As we have seen, some of the individual images do show narrative scenes. But the scenes in the series do not have logic causal relations. The series is a fragmented story told through glimpses, much like short strips of film cuttings, and the narrative, or narratological story, cannot be reconstructed.34 My claim here is that the images in «The Green Room» do not create one story but several stories.

What the spectator sees, or chooses to see, is dependent on the order of the images, and highlights interchangeability as a central feature of the series. In the case of Munch’s picture series the fabula is present, but it is not a given. The fabula is here an individual construction, depending on the spectator’s own mental activity when encountering the work. And, depending on the organization of the paintings in the story, the fabula will differ accordingly. In this manner «The Green Room» differs from the experiments of Muybridge and Marey, and new visual media such as film. They are all concerned with dividing time into static images at given intervals.35 The duration and time in «The Green Room» are individual, and vary according to each spectator’s experience of the series. The sequencing in the series is not pre-determined, but rather depends on the spectator’s own mental activity when encountering the images in time and space.36

Munch’s interest in seriality coincides with developments in the understanding of time, temporality, and the new visual entertainment spectacles of the 1890s. My argument is that «The Green Room» is a modernist experiment, where Munch manipulates our expectations of coherence and narratives. The series invites the spectator to attempt to create a logical, structured whole, through the use of the same space and furniture (the green room), consistencies in color scheme, and the formal characteristics (such as rough, hasty paint strokes, as well as exposed primed canvas). Although the series initially gives the impression of being a narrative, it is not possible to identify causal relations between all the scenes in the series. The individual images are not productive ‘building blocks’ that link together in a narrative. The series creates a mood, and appeals to the spectator’s individual perception and mental activity.

This article is based on my paper «Putting it Together: Time and Narrative In Munch’s Series» presented at the conference New Visions: Edvard Munch and Modern Media Culture, arranged by the Munch Museum, the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design and the University of Oslo, December 1, 2012.

1Reinhold Heller: «Edvard Munch’s «Life Frieze». Its Beginnings and Origins», unpublished PhD dissertation, Indiana University 1969, p. 152.
2Munch’s series: «Livsfrisen» (1893–1918); «Speilet» (not completed, 1897); «Linde-frisen» (1904); «Det grønne værelset» (1907); Kammerspiele-series: «Gengangere» (1906) and «Hedda Gabler» (1907); «Reinhardt-frisen» (1907); «Alfa & Omega» (1908–09); University of Oslo Aula-decorations (1909–1916); Freia-decoration (1923).
3Munch’s series has been the topic of several academic texts, such as Bente Torjusen: «The Mirror», in: Edvard Munch. Symbol and Images, exhibition catalogue National Gallery, Washington, D. C. 1978; Heller op.cit.; Arne Eggum: Edvard Munch: Livsfrisen fra maleri til grafikk, Oslo 1990; Erik Mørstad: «Edvard Munchs Livsfrise: struktur, kontekst og kritikk», in: Kunst og Kultur, Nr 3, 2004; Wenche Volle: «Munchs rom», unpublished PhD dissertation, Arkitektur- og designhøgskolen i Oslo 2012.
4Charles Stuckey: «The Predications and Implications of Monet’s Series», in: The Repeating Image. Multiples in French Painting form David to Matisse, exhibition catalogue The Walker Art Museum 2008, p. 85.
5I consider the following paintings to be a part of «Det grønne værelset»: Zum süβen Mädel (Woll 781); Overraskelsen (Woll 782); Sjalusi (Woll 783); Sjalusi (Woll 784); Begjær (Woll 785); Mordersken (Woll 786) Hat (Woll 787). This will be elaborated on further in my coming PhD dissertation at the University of Oslo. It is scheduled to be completed in 2014.
6Munch’s series have a loose structure, and vary over time with regards to which images are included. «Livsfrisen» is a prime example here. There are, however, series that have a much more structured consistency, such as «Alfa & Omega», «Linde-frisen», and «Reinhardt-frisen». These series have a finite number of images, and an internal sequencing that is consistent.
7See for example W.J.T. Mitchell: «What do Pictures ‘Really’ Want?», in: October, vol. 77 (Summer 1996), pp. 71Ὅ82.
8See for example Arne Eggum: «Det gröna rummet», in: Edvard Munch, exhibition catalogue Liljevalchs & Kulturhuset, Stockholm 1977; Arne Eggum: Munch og Warnemünde, exhibition catalogue Munch-museet, Oslo 1999; Angela Lampe: «Munch and Max Reinhardt’s Modern Stage», in: Edvard Munch. The Modern Eye, exhibition catalogue Tate Modern, London 2012.
9See for example Julia Thomas: Victorian Narrative Painting, London 2000, p. 13ff.
10So far there are five suggestions about which paintings the series «Det grønne værelset» consists of. These are: (1) Munch’s packing list MM T2742, (2) Dr. Justi’s notes from Ekely 1927, (3) paintings listed together in the exhibition catalogue in Berlin/ Oslo 1927, (4) Eggum’s suggestions 1977, and (5) images considered to belong to the series in Woll’s catalogue raisonné (2008).
11See note 10: In the case of Dr. Justi’s list, the inclusion of Mordersken is according to Eggum op.cit. 1977.
12MM T2742, Munch-museet. Not dated: Ludvig Ravensberg has made notes on a couple of pages in this notebook, amongst these is Dr. Jacobson’s name. Munch was admitted to Dr. Jacobson’s clinic in Copenhagen in the autumn 1908. I would like to thank Lasse Jacobsen (Munch-museet, library) for help on this matter. See also Eggum 1977, p. 76.
13Dr. Justi’s visit to Munch’s house has been documented in a photograph of the two. It is also confirmed in Dr. Kurt Winkler’s commentary on Dr. Justi in the book Ludwig Justi, werden – wirken – wissen, vol. 2, page 269 (commentary to page 474ff in vol. 1).
14Eggum op.cit. 1977, s. 74.
15There is no doubt that Dr. Justi visited Munch at Ekely in the spring of 1927 (see note 13). At the Zentralarchiv, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – PreuEischer Kulturbesitz there is a document listing the images Dr. Justi was presented with at Ekely in the spring of 1927 (document signature: SMB-ZA, I/NG 678: «Ausstellung Edvard Munch 1927»). This is, however, not the document Eggum cites in his 1977 article as the images are not grouped as «Det grønne værelset». I wish to thank Lill-Ann Körber (Humboldt Universitát zu Berlin) and Carolin Pilgermann (Dipl.-Archivarin FH, Zentralarchiv, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin) for their assistance with this matter.
16The exhibition catalogues for the 1927 retrospective exhibitions in Berlin and Oslo are in Munch-museet.
17An extended discussion of this argument will be elaborated on further in my PhD dissertation at the University of Oslo. It is scheduled to be completed in 2014.
18There are photographs of the exhibition space/hanging in Nasjonalgalleriet (Oslo), but none showing the images in «Det grønne værelset»: MM B3559(F), Munch-museet.
19See for example: Mary Ann Doane: The Emergence of Cinematic Time. Modernity, Contingency, the Archive, Cambridge and London 2002, p. 4; International conference held in Washington for the purpose of fixing a prime meridian and a universal day: protocols of the proceedings, Washington D.C. 1884.
20Doane op.cit., p 7.
21Marta Braun: Picturing Time. The Work of Etienne-Jules Marey (1830–1904), Chicago and London 1992, p. 237.
22Ibid., p. 238ff.
23See for example Doane op.cit., p. 119ff
24«They look as if they are representing a series of movements because the structure in which they are ordered dictated a progression, because any clues that would prompt us to read the pictures more closely have been obliterated by the arrangement on the page, and because we presume that if one sequence is «right» – and many of them are – then the rest must be too.» Braun op.cit., p. 244.
25For example Georges Méliès: The Vanishing Lady (1896), and The Magician (1898).
26See Vanessa Schwartz: Spectacular Realities, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1998.
27See for example: Schwartz op.cit.; Mark Sandberg, M: Living Pictures, Missing Persons. Mannequins, Museums, and Modernity, Princeton and Oxford 2003; Lisa Tiersten.: Marianne in the Market. Envisioning Consumer Society in Fin-de-Siècle France, Berkeley and Los Angeles 2001; Jonathan Crary: Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century, Cambridge 1992; Jonathan Crary: Suspensions of Perceptions: Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture, Cambridge 2001.
28See Schwartz op.cit.; Crary op.cit., 2001.
29For more on Munch’s activities in Paris in 1896, and at Théâtre de l’Œuvre, see for example Munch og Frankrike, exhibition catalogue Musée d’Orsay and Munch-museet 1992; Joan Templeton: Munch’s Ibsen. A Painter’s Vision of a Playwright, Seattle and Copenhagen 2008; Arne Eggum: «Henrik Ibsen som dramatiker i Edvard Munchs perspektiv», in: Edvard Munch og Henrik Ibsen, utstillingskatalog Kunstforeningen, København 1998.
30An example of a poly-phased image is Hieronymus Bosch’s (c. 1450–1516) The Haywain Triptych (1515, Museo Nacional del Prado). The three panels each display several scenes within their individual picture planes. See Werner Wolf: «Pictorial Narrativity», in: Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory, eds. Herman, D.; Jahn, M.; Ryan, M-L., London and New York 2005, p. 431.
31Wolf op.cit., p. 433.
32Carla Lathe: «Edvard Munch’s Dramatic Images 1892–1909», in: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 46 (1983), p. 203.
33See Mieke Bal: Narratology. Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, Toronto, Buffalo and London 2009, p. 5; Peter Verstraten: Film Narratology, Toronto, Buffalo and London 2011, p. 12.
34Øivind Storm Bjerke has pointed out (most recently when I presented parts of this article at the conference New Visions: Edvard Munch and Modern Media Culture at the University of Oslo, December 1, 2012), that the images in Munch’s «Det grønne værelset» could be compared to film stills. I would like to thank him for making this highly relevant point. However, I do not agree. Film stills are selected primarily to market a movie and are dramatic shots that will draw attention to the film when used on posters, magazines, advertising or as handouts. They are often selected to highlight central or pregnant moments in a narrative, or an actor’s dramatic look. Munch’s paintings in «Det grønne værelset» are not highlights in the same sense. My argument in this article is that the images in this series are not pregnant moments, and do not display a narrative arc. According to Joel W. Finler, movie stills were taken as early as 1906, but were not in much demand: «But suddenly, in 1910–11, there was a greater demand for stills than ever before for use on posters and to be reproduced in newspapers and magazines as movie audiences continued to grow rapidly.», in: Hollywood Movie Stills. Art and Technique in the Golden Age of Studios, London 1995, p. 11, see also text to illustrations on p. 19.
35Henri Bergson: Creative Evolution, New York 1926, p. 306 and 332, here after Doane op.cit., p. 66. Bergson’s L’Evolution créatrice was first published in 1907.
36Henri Bergson’s philosophy on duration (la durée) is highly relevant when considering the sequencing issues in Det grønne værelset. See for example Bergson: Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness, first published in 1886.

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