The World Economic Forum's invite-only annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, routinely hosts boldface names such as Angela Merkel, Fareed Zakaria and Bill Gates. The meeting is known as a place where an international cadre of financiers, industry titans, politicians, entrepreneurs and scientists meet for conversation, panel discussions and deal-making. Fees for attendance vary but reportedly can reach up to $70,000 including membership fees.
Today begins this year's meeting (Jan. 22-25), whose theme is "The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business." The roster features no shortage of artists and art-world figures. Among the attendees are Museum of Modern Art head of research and development Paola Antonelli, Metropolitan Museum of Art director Thomas Campbell and Getty Trust director James Cuno, along with artists Olafur Eliasson and Shirin Neshat. (Neshat is being honored with the organization's Crystal Award, which in the past has gone to Frank Stella and Christo and Jeanne-Claude.) Also attending are Asia Art Archive cofounder Claire Hsu and Art Basel director Marc Spiegler.
"Slowly but surely the arts are becoming more center stage," Antonelli, in a phone interview, told A.i.A. While participation by artists and art-world denizens isn't new, she said, "Only recently have the arts come to be a vital part of that discussion rather than something separate." Antonelli serves on the board of the World Arts Forum Foundation.
Art will also be on view, with an exhibition of works by Andreas Gursky and Damien Hirst, organized by the Ukraine-based Pinchuk Foundation.
Art-related panels include a Jan. 23 session on "art and identity," which will explore the question of how arts are influencing identity in a fragmenting world, and includes Cuno, Eliasson and Neshat along with European Commission president José Manuel Barrosso and author Elif Shafak.