On view

American, 1927–2016
Free Ride Home, 1974
Aluminum and stainless steel
30 x 60 x 60 ft. (914.4 cm x 18.3 m x 18.3 m)
Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation
© The Estate of Kenneth Snelson, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York.
Photo by Kenneth Snelson

When conceiving of Free Ride Home, Kenneth Snelson first created a small maquette of metal tubes and knotted strings, envisioning what it would be like to walk under and through its silvery linear forms. “I began by thinking of a sculpture that would soar overhead,” Snelson noted. “I started with a central core and then developed it in three directions with three arches. One of the arches began to take on a descending fast plunge. It reminded me of the shape of a bucking horse. So, Free Ride Home, the name of a race horse, became the name of the sculpture.”

Touching the ground at just three points, the creatively engineered sculpture is fashioned from a network of stainless steel cables knotted to aluminum tubes. Installing at Storm King in the spring of 1975, a crew of just four raised the entire structure in under an hour. Free Ride Home is a prime example of Snelson’s play with organic forms constrained by internal structural tension, a push-pull system he invented in 1948. In this system, inspired by anatomy, cables function like muscles and the aluminum tubes like bones.