Immersive art
House of Fun: Luna Luna

The summer of 1987 saw the launch of an arts carnival featuring rides designed by artists Salvador Dali, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat, among others. Now Canadian rapper Drake is working with founder Andre Heller to bring it back to life, finds Magali Robathan


In the summer of 1987, around 250,000 curious visitors flocked to Luna Luna in Hamburg, Germany – described as the world’s first travelling art amusement park. It featured fairground attractions that were also works of art by the likes of Salvador Dali, Roy Lichtenstein, Sonia Delaunay, Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hockney, as well as music, games and performances.

Luna Luna was the brainchild of Austrian artist Andre Heller. Now, more than 35 years later, Heller has teamed up with musician Drake and his production company DreamCrew to relaunch Luna Luna with new commissions by contemporary artists alongside restored works from the original attraction.

It’s an incredible story, that started with an idea by Heller inspired by childhood visits to traditional luna amusement parks. His vision was to create an attraction that could act as a “big bridge between the so-called avant-garde — the artists who were a little snobbish sometimes and didn’t connect with the masses — and the so-called normal people,” as Heller told The New York Times.

Heller used his growing success as an artist to bring his vision to life – in 1985, he was awarded a grant of around US$350,000 from German magazine Neue Revue, and he travelled around the world trying to persuade artists to take part.

Heller’s powers of persuasion clearly worked – he collaborated with 32 of some of the world’s most exciting artists – reportedly paying them $10,000 each – to create attractions for the open-air park, which opened to visitors from 4 June to 31 August 1987 in Hamburg.

A dizzying spectacle
Visitors arriving at the park were greeted by a welcome sign and entrance archway by French artist Sonia Delaunay. Once inside, they could explore attractions and amusements designed by some of the world’s most exciting artists, including a pavilion wrapped with Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings housing a mirrored glass labyrinth, a ferris wheel created by Jean-Michel Basquiat composed of his drawings, and a geometric forest pavilion designed by David Hockney.

Salvador Dali created a dome with a mirrored geodesic funhouse interior designed to induce ‘spatial hallucinations,’ August Walla contributed a hand-painted circus wagon, and every attraction had its own music, some of it specially composed for the project.

Long before ‘immersive art shows’ became a trend, Luna Luna plunged visitors into a spectacle of creativity and imagination described by Life magazine as the “most dizzying, dazzling art show on Earth”.

The plan was for Luna Luna to tour Europe and the US after its summer in Hamburg, and the city of Vienna hoped to buy and permanently exhibit the attraction, but a series of lawsuits and political concerns thwarted these efforts and the park was forced to close.

Brought back to life
For more than 35 years, the unique attractions sat in storage, most recently in a warehouse in rural Texas, where they have been since 2007.

Now creative director Michael Goldberg and founder of creative agency Something Special – who stumbled on the story of Luna Luna when browsing the web – has teamed up with Drake and his arts and entertainment company DreamCrew to restore the artworks and bring the carnival back to life.

Drake has reportedly pledged $100m (£84m) of his fortune to the project. “When I first heard about Luna Luna I was blown away,” Drake said in a statement. “It’s such a unique and special way to experience art. This is a big idea and opportunity that centres around what we love most: bringing people together.”

The original attractions left Texas in January 2022 in a series of crates and containers bound for an industrial warehouse in Los Angeles, where they are currently being restored by a team of experts.

As well as exhibiting the original rides and attractions, the team behind Luna Luna’s new incarnation promises to launch a collection of “rideable, playable fairground attractions” designed for the carnival by influential contemporary artists. The project is also set to include art workshops, film screenings and other events, concert and parties, interactive experiences, food and drink. The curatorial team reportedly includes experts from the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Shed.

A multi-city tour is planned for 2024, beginning in the US before touring globally. The tour is being produced by live entertainment company Live Nation.

Details of the tour and the new artists taking part haven’t yet been announced, but this is definitely one to watch.

Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC

"I wanted to build a bridge between the so-called avant-garde — the artists who were a little snobbish sometimes and didn’t connect with the masses — and the so-called normal people" – Andre Heller

LUNA LUNA – THE TEAM

• The new Luna Luna tour – which is set for 2024 – is being made possible by a team of creatives led by rapper Drake’s arts and entertainment company DreamCrew.

• Other partners in the project are founder of creative agency Something Special Studios, Michael Goldberg, international art attorney, Daniel McClean and art, culture and technology entrepreneur, Justin Wills.

• Anthony Gonzales is the new CEO of Luna Luna and a partner in DreamCrew.

• The tour is being produced by Live Nation.

"It’s such a unique and special way to experience art" – Drake

The open air museum and amusement park featured music and performance Credit: Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Heller persuaded 32 artists to design the original fairground attractions Credit: Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Rapper Drake has teamed up with Michael Goldberg to revive Luna Luna Credit: Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Credit: Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
The new Luna Luna will feature the original rides alongside new designs Credit: Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
David Hockney working on creations for Luna Luna Credit: PhotoS: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Kenny Scharf working on creations for Luna Luna Credit: PhotoS: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Keith Haring working on creations for Luna Luna Credit: PhotoS: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Roy Lichtenstein working on creations for Luna Luna Credit: PhotoS: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Attractions Management
2023 issue 2

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Leisure Management - House of Fun: Luna Luna

Immersive art

House of Fun: Luna Luna


The summer of 1987 saw the launch of an arts carnival featuring rides designed by artists Salvador Dali, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat, among others. Now Canadian rapper Drake is working with founder Andre Heller to bring it back to life, finds Magali Robathan

Visitors entered Luna Luna in 1987 via an arch designed by artist Sonia Delaunay Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
The open air museum and amusement park featured music and performance Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Heller persuaded 32 artists to design the original fairground attractions Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Rapper Drake has teamed up with Michael Goldberg to revive Luna Luna Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
The new Luna Luna will feature the original rides alongside new designs Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
David Hockney working on creations for Luna Luna PhotoS: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Kenny Scharf working on creations for Luna Luna PhotoS: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Keith Haring working on creations for Luna Luna PhotoS: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC
Roy Lichtenstein working on creations for Luna Luna PhotoS: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC

In the summer of 1987, around 250,000 curious visitors flocked to Luna Luna in Hamburg, Germany – described as the world’s first travelling art amusement park. It featured fairground attractions that were also works of art by the likes of Salvador Dali, Roy Lichtenstein, Sonia Delaunay, Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hockney, as well as music, games and performances.

Luna Luna was the brainchild of Austrian artist Andre Heller. Now, more than 35 years later, Heller has teamed up with musician Drake and his production company DreamCrew to relaunch Luna Luna with new commissions by contemporary artists alongside restored works from the original attraction.

It’s an incredible story, that started with an idea by Heller inspired by childhood visits to traditional luna amusement parks. His vision was to create an attraction that could act as a “big bridge between the so-called avant-garde — the artists who were a little snobbish sometimes and didn’t connect with the masses — and the so-called normal people,” as Heller told The New York Times.

Heller used his growing success as an artist to bring his vision to life – in 1985, he was awarded a grant of around US$350,000 from German magazine Neue Revue, and he travelled around the world trying to persuade artists to take part.

Heller’s powers of persuasion clearly worked – he collaborated with 32 of some of the world’s most exciting artists – reportedly paying them $10,000 each – to create attractions for the open-air park, which opened to visitors from 4 June to 31 August 1987 in Hamburg.

A dizzying spectacle
Visitors arriving at the park were greeted by a welcome sign and entrance archway by French artist Sonia Delaunay. Once inside, they could explore attractions and amusements designed by some of the world’s most exciting artists, including a pavilion wrapped with Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings housing a mirrored glass labyrinth, a ferris wheel created by Jean-Michel Basquiat composed of his drawings, and a geometric forest pavilion designed by David Hockney.

Salvador Dali created a dome with a mirrored geodesic funhouse interior designed to induce ‘spatial hallucinations,’ August Walla contributed a hand-painted circus wagon, and every attraction had its own music, some of it specially composed for the project.

Long before ‘immersive art shows’ became a trend, Luna Luna plunged visitors into a spectacle of creativity and imagination described by Life magazine as the “most dizzying, dazzling art show on Earth”.

The plan was for Luna Luna to tour Europe and the US after its summer in Hamburg, and the city of Vienna hoped to buy and permanently exhibit the attraction, but a series of lawsuits and political concerns thwarted these efforts and the park was forced to close.

Brought back to life
For more than 35 years, the unique attractions sat in storage, most recently in a warehouse in rural Texas, where they have been since 2007.

Now creative director Michael Goldberg and founder of creative agency Something Special – who stumbled on the story of Luna Luna when browsing the web – has teamed up with Drake and his arts and entertainment company DreamCrew to restore the artworks and bring the carnival back to life.

Drake has reportedly pledged $100m (£84m) of his fortune to the project. “When I first heard about Luna Luna I was blown away,” Drake said in a statement. “It’s such a unique and special way to experience art. This is a big idea and opportunity that centres around what we love most: bringing people together.”

The original attractions left Texas in January 2022 in a series of crates and containers bound for an industrial warehouse in Los Angeles, where they are currently being restored by a team of experts.

As well as exhibiting the original rides and attractions, the team behind Luna Luna’s new incarnation promises to launch a collection of “rideable, playable fairground attractions” designed for the carnival by influential contemporary artists. The project is also set to include art workshops, film screenings and other events, concert and parties, interactive experiences, food and drink. The curatorial team reportedly includes experts from the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Shed.

A multi-city tour is planned for 2024, beginning in the US before touring globally. The tour is being produced by live entertainment company Live Nation.

Details of the tour and the new artists taking part haven’t yet been announced, but this is definitely one to watch.

Photo: Sabina Sarnitz, courtesy Luna Luna LLC

"I wanted to build a bridge between the so-called avant-garde — the artists who were a little snobbish sometimes and didn’t connect with the masses — and the so-called normal people" – Andre Heller

LUNA LUNA – THE TEAM

• The new Luna Luna tour – which is set for 2024 – is being made possible by a team of creatives led by rapper Drake’s arts and entertainment company DreamCrew.

• Other partners in the project are founder of creative agency Something Special Studios, Michael Goldberg, international art attorney, Daniel McClean and art, culture and technology entrepreneur, Justin Wills.

• Anthony Gonzales is the new CEO of Luna Luna and a partner in DreamCrew.

• The tour is being produced by Live Nation.

"It’s such a unique and special way to experience art" – Drake


Originally published in Attractions Management 2023 issue 2

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