My Secret Davos

January 27, 2009

Some go to Davos to think great thoughts. Some go to mingle and network. Some go to give or get answers to intractable problems.


Sure I’m here for the work – Reuters news is deeply involved in coverage with live TV every morning and a team of specialist journalists digging for scoops; I’m also moderating a couple of panels on Asian Innovation and on Brazil’s potential and participating in a further one on collaboration.

But forget all that, and the cocktail parties and the networking with other members of the International Media Council.

What I like is the art.

For me, Davos’s hidden gem is the Kirchner Museum.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (May 6, 1880 – June 15, 1938) was a key early figure in Expressionism and settled in the mountains of Davos after suffering a nervous breakdown in World War I.

The current exhibit at the museum on Kirchner’s late works strikes me as particularly appropriate for this post-financial crisis world.

Kirchner was all about transformation, reinventing himself and his art practically every decade. These works from the late 1920s and early 1930s to me speak to a man trying to make sense of his place in a world poised for major ructions.

Woodblocks with harsh black edges, images of lithe dancers folding into each other’s shapes and shadows, garishly coloured large paintings of faces, bodies and cafe life — these speak to me of a world whose boundaries were no longer clear and which was ripe for reinvention.

Surely our world too is ready for reinvention — and certainly the world of finance and business and government represented at Davos plenaries.

How many of the 2009 delegates to the World Economic Forum will take time from their deliberations or networking to get inspiration from a genius four generations previous?

I’m glad I snuck in on this set-up day to get my favourite part of the Davos experience in.

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