Where the Ferris Wheel Is by Basquiat and the Carousel by Keith Haring
Luna Luna, an art carnival that appeared in Hamburg in 1987, then vanished, has been resurrected in Los Angeles. You can wander there, but the rides are verboten.
A Ferris wheel from the 1930s that was painted in accordance with the designs of Jean-Michel Basquiat.CreditCredit…
Text by Lauren Herstik
Photographs and Video by Chantal Anderson
The lights dimmed and a Ferris wheel designed by Jean-Michel Basquiat began turning in time to “Tutu,” by Miles Davis.
“It’s like it’s drawn on a sheet of paper,” said Ajani Purnell, 26, an executive assistant to the artist Shepard Fairey, who joined the crowds at a warehouse complex in Los Angeles to gawk at — but not ride — the attractions at the revival of Luna Luna, a long-lost art amusement park that was created in 1987 in Hamburg, Germany, by some of the most famous artists of the day. “It doesn’t even look like it’s made out of metal.”
After spending years in storage, Sonia Delaunay’s archway with the “Luna Luna” sign, Kenny Scharf’s swing chair ride and Basquiat’s Ferris wheel all drew curious onlookers.
The long-delayed reappearance of Luna Luna — with its Basquiat Ferris wheel, Keith Haring merry-go-round and installations by David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein — is drawing visitors from as far as Singapore, Seattle and New York, as well as plenty of Angelenos to the Boyle Heights neighborhood where it was recreated. There were art world insiders and casual fans and quite a few children. (General admission is $38 on weekdays and $47 on weekends.) Just about everyone at the exhibition had heard about it on social media. Many mentioned the musician Drake, whose company was behind the revival of the attraction.
“It’s so mind blowing that we didn’t know about this,” said Joy Gorman, 50, a TV and film producer from Los Angeles who brought her 12-year-old daughter Rosemary.
Inside Salvador Dalí’s “Dalídom.”CreditCredit…
Many visitors were disappointed to learn that they couldn’t ride the arty rides: They are off-limits, both to preserve them as artworks and because they were not built to today’s safety codes. But the spectacle alone is an attraction, and visitors can enter pavilions by Hockney and Salvador Dalí or get married at André Heller’s “Wedding Chapel.”
Stephanie Sliger, 36, and her daughter, Kendall, 9, bought tickets to Luna Luna the moment they became available. Ms. Sliger once worked at an amusement park, and she and her daughter both love making art.
“We’ve been painting for a long time,” Ms. Sliger said. “Our go-to activity was to paint when we didn’t have a lot.”
At André Heller’s “Wedding Chapel,” guests can marry “whomever or whatever” they like.
Haring’s merry-go-round, with the artist’s signature figures for seats, sits beside Hockney’s “Enchanted Tree,” an Arik Brauer carousel and “The Palace of the Winds,” an attraction by Manfred Deix featuring video of the original, unusual “fart orchestra” that played at the amusement park, which is now billed as Luna Luna: A Forgotten Fantasy, and is expected to remain open into the spring.
It was an exhibit that seemed ready-made for Instagram. Rides spun in time to lilting carnival music by the Los Angeles composer Daniel Wohl.
A Keith Haring carousel.CreditCredit…
A circus performer covered in feathers waved at a little girl, beckoning her to come closer. They compared shoes, high-fived, and danced beside Kenny Scharf’s painted swing ride.
Between jazz interludes, wedding bells tinkled at the chapel, which invites guests to marry “whomever or whatever” they want. It was Heller who came up with the concept for Luna Luna more than three decades ago.
Justin Gonzales, 26, of Los Angeles, with power vested by the “eccentric law of Luna Luna” conducted ceremonies for $10 a pop (or free for those who had a V.I.P. “moon pass”).
He performed the marriage of Jennifer Schmidt, 34, a wedding planner from Los Angeles, her husband, Dylan Schmidt, 35, a podcaster, and their baby Brooklyn, 1.
“We eloped for our first wedding two years ago. And we always said if we did it again, we’d do it with the baby. This is the perfect fun story for her later,” Ms. Schmidt said.
A clown with the face of a young Bono juggled pins between the Roy Lichtenstein glass labyrinth and Dalí’s mirrored geodesic dome.
When asked how she heard about Luna Luna, Linder Sutton, 13, from Beverly Hills, said, “I probably had a dream about it when I was younger,” recalling one in which Keith Haring’s drawings had come to life.
“I feel like I manifested this.”
In addition to Scharf’s swing chair ride, the exhibition included Hockney’s “Enchanted Tree” pavilion.