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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Luna Luna: Forgotten Fantasy

Visitors on Kenny Scharf’s painted swing-ride at Luna Luna in Hamburg, in 1987.

1601 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90023

Last year, the multi-media artist André Heller stood face-to-face with a long-abandoned project that had sat collecting dust in the Texas desert. Forty-four weathered crates held monumental creations by some of the world’s most famous artists. They hadn’t been opened in 35 years. The crates contained bits and pieces of Luna Luna, history’s first amusement park meets contemporary-art installation. It opened in Hamburg in the summer of 1987. The Ferris wheel was designed by Jean-Michel Basquiat; the merry-go-round, by Keith Haring. David Hockney provided an enchanted tree, and a mirrored dome was the brainchild of Salvador Dalí. Two hundred artisans worked on the project. After that successful 80s opening, Heller’s plans for a European tour flopped unceremoniously. The 30 pavilions, along with permits and transportation, presented a logistical nightmare. Heller sold Luna Luna to the Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation for $6 million, and subsequent litigation resulted in the rides’ being put into storage. Luna Luna quickly vanished. With help from the rapper Drake, who purchased the park during the pandemic, and countless teams of lawyers, museums, and curators, Heller’s creation is enjoying a grand reopening; it will then embark on a global tour. —Elena Clavarino

Photo: © Sabina Sarnitz/courtesy of Luna Luna, LLC