NARRATOR: In the early-twentieth century, Luna Park was one of the most famous attractions on the Coney Island boardwalk. The amusement park was built to look like a sprawling palace, with spires and minarets sprouting up around its perimeter. Electric lights were still novelties, and over a million of them covered the buildings’ surfaces. The park was designed to keep visitors continually on the move, from ride to ride and attraction to attraction.
For the Italian-born painter Joseph Stella, Luna Park was a major inspiration. In this painting Stella focused on the speed, dynamism, and energetic rhythms of Coney Island. The two red pinwheels churning at the center of Luna Park seem to stir up that powerful energy. So does the way that, all around the painting, one form merges into the next. It’s as if everything in the park happens so quickly that it all flows into a continuous present.