Bois employs the metaphor of chess, arguing that the game represents the artists’ exchange as “a competitive rivalry and a complex temporality” that can be viewed both as a linear process and a simultaneous structure.

As per wikiwand, it has this meaning - https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Temporality

But I am not able to tie the sentence with this meaning

Entire paragraph - Matisse and Picasso; Picasso and Matisse. Throughout the twentieth century, this pairing has been touted as the quintessential artistic rivalry. In Matisse and Picasso, Yve-Alain Bois follows Hubert Damisch in proposing that the interaction between Picasso and Matisse should be seen as a dynamic game rather than a static conflict of artistic polarities. Bois employs the metaphor of chess, arguing that the game represents the artists’ exchange as “a competitive rivalry and a complex temporality” that can be viewed both as a linear process and a simultaneous structure."

  • 1
    "that can be viewed both as a linear process and a simultaneous structure" What more do you need to know??
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 8, 2020 at 13:59
  • If more is needed, specifying definitions such as this are better asked in the relevant domain. Philosophy.SE. Dec 3, 2020 at 19:10

3 Answers 3


My parsing: The artist's exchange is like chess because both exhibit: A competitive rivalry - two people compete to be heard/win (a tautology as competitor and rival mean the same thing) complex temporality: there is a complex situation that exists statically (ie is not exclusively of the moment) but also changes over time.

Part of the problem is that the word temporality has a wide range of meanings. In some cases it simply means relating to time, historically it has also had a specific meaning relating to the earthly possessions of the clergy. [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/temporality] Your wikiwand link [ https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Temporality] again highlights quite specific and divergent philosopical uses.

Without examining in more detail both the review, the artist's exchange and the critical reactions, it appears that the "complex temporality" refers to the interplay between the historical context of the art and the impact of the comments and discussion on that context. That weakens the analogy with chess but more closely describes the temporal complexity of art criticism.

I have a personal opinion which has no place in these pages, but my advice to academics for whom I edit, is to be as specific as possible. "Vagueness unsuccessfully masks a lack of clear thinking. Nail what it is that you really mean and everyone will understand your observation."

  • What do you mean by "statically (ie is not exclusively of the moment) "? Isn't static something that doesn't change ?
    – user221478
    Mar 8, 2020 at 9:22
  • Also, why do they use the word complex to denote this relationship? And how do you know it's historical context and comment ? I've updated the description with it.
    – user221478
    Mar 8, 2020 at 9:46
  • Yes, I should expand on that. Chess has a board and rules that do not change, but every game is different. So any analysis of the game refers to a static framework and a set of moves that limit future options. Similarly, art criticism refers to a historical context in which the work is embedded but the conversation between the artist and critics builds on that background and affects the perception of future viewers. So the conversation impacts on the art in a similar way that past moves impact on future moves.
    – Giobono
    Mar 9, 2020 at 23:50

a complex temporality

A complex issue concerning the present condition rather than an eternal truth



3. The quality or condition of being temporal or temporary; temporariness; relation to time.

1635 E. Rainbow Labour 11 Though in the act of our labours..we place temporality, yet ought we alwayes before our intentions to set æternity.

1659 H. L'Estrange Alliance Divine Offices v. 158 As the Western Church observed this very day [All Saints day], so did also the Eastern, or at least some other, in temporality and point of time very near it.

1678 T. Jones Of Heart & Soveraign 587 What can any mortal excellency, that has..perishing temporality stamp'd upon it signifie to Christians, who are not of this world?

1909 Westm. Gaz. 15 May 4/1 Gaining thereby the attributes of eternity, without losing its own qualities of temporality.

Temporality is (i)that which an issue, concern, matter, etc., that will pass in time, i.e. as opposed to a matter or concept that is eternal; (ii) that which is related only to current times, i.e. those things that are happening now (often with the nuance that these things are temporary.)


The "complexity temporality" here implies that the pieces on a chess board keep on moving. There might be moments when the black is ahead and moments when the white is ahead. My father suggested this answer and this is the only response that made sense to me.

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