The strange tale of the avant-garde carnival Luna Luna and its forgotten treasures by Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Salvador Dalí among many is being brought back to life thanks to a surprising hero – pop megastar Drake. The art amusement park rides created by the most legendary artists of the 20th century were lost in storage for 35 years until 2024 when it will make its comeback.
It was the summer of 1987 when a wonderland created by renowned artists from all over the world became a reality. The name was Luna Luna, a traveling art carnival that was brought to life in Hamburg by the Viennese artist André Heller. As a versatile artist known for his creation of flying sculptures, circuses, and fire spectacles, Heller saw the carnival as a grand opportunity to curate and showcase his artistry.
He combined avant-garde and popular culture to form a functional carnival, featuring a constantly evolving collection of rides and amusements designed by renowned artists across various disciplines including art, music, and food. Luna Luna became a wonderland that welcomed people from all ages.
The initial idea of creating Luna Luna Park became Heller’s personal goal, he traveled throughout borders for ten years striving to create what will become the first and only art amusement park. When in the summer of 1987 that dream came true, visitors could immerse themselves in a paradise that felt like walking through a canvas.
The options were dream-like, from riding a Keith Haring carousel to flying in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ferris wheel. The entire park provided an opportunity for visitors to interact with stilt walkers, mimes, and other theatrical characters as they strolled through the grounds filled with rides and kiosks that were designed by some of the most distinguished names in 20th century art history, including David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, and Salvador Dalí, among others.
In total, thirty-five artists were commissioned to create new works for the fairground, which was intended for a worldwide tour. Unfortunately, the amusement park rapidly became one of the art world’s best kept secret due to an unforeseen turn of events resulting in the closure of the art-filled theme park during the summer of 1987. Following a change in ownership after its debut in Hamburg, Luna Luna became entangled in litigation and lawsuits, ultimately leading to its closing.
The Luna Luna artworks, including the attractions and rides created by the artists, were stored in shipping containers for over three decades.
However, in 2022, a news headline in ArtNet brought hope to the revival of the carnival “Drake Is the Surprise Angel Investor Behind the Resurgence of Luna Luna, a 1987 Art Carnival With Rides by Haring, Basquiat, and Dalí”. Heller and his son had made the decision to bring back the park, and after extensive negotiations and networking, Luna Luna is finally making a comeback.
The creative attractions and rides of Luna Luna are currently being restored and polished in a warehouse in Los Angeles, getting them ready for their forthcoming launch in North America. While the precise dates have yet to be confirmed, fans and enthusiasts residing in North America can anticipate that they will soon have the chance to experience the artistic wonder of Luna Luna.
Check out all the attractions by artists here.