An avant-garde art carnival melding amusement park rides with public art by the likes of Salvador Dalí, David Hockney, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jean-Michel Basquiat will soon be rebooted in Los Angeles, 35 years after it first opened to revelers in the summer of 1987 in Hamburg, Germany. Luna Luna is being granted an unlikely second life by rapper Drake, along with his arts and entertainment company DreamCrew and creative director Michael Goldberg.
Luna Luna, the creative fantasy of multimedia artist André Heller, was meant to tour the world, intended from its inception to be a playground where art, popular culture, and experimentation could fuse. Heller, who believed that “art should come in unconventional guises and be brought to those who might not ordinarily seek it out in more predictable settings,” invited some of the most prominent artists of the time to directly apply their designs to the amusement park’s structures. Basquiat painted a Ferris wheel; Haring depicted his iconic figures on a carousel; Hockney portrayed an abstract enchanted forest on a temporary pavilion; Sonia Delaunay designed the archway that welcomed visitors at the entrance of the fair.
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Around 250,000 people visited Luna Luna the summer it debuted. But a series of unfortunate circumstances — including political disputes, last-minute cancellations, a change in ownership, and lawsuits — prevented the carnival from making any more stops. The carnival components were packed up and sent to storage in rural Texas, where they would remain for the next 15 years. Heller gave up on its revivification.
Now, over $100 million has been invested in Luna Luna to restore the park’s constituent parts, assemble a modern-day curatorial team, prepare for the global tour, and assemble food, beverage, and musical programming.
Luna Luna is expected to relaunch in the fall of 2023 and visit Los Angeles, New York, and other American cities before embarking on a world tour, accompanied by a reissue of the publication on the original 1987 carnival translated into English and published by Phaidon.