The Brooklyn Rail

The Brooklyn Rail

Cover of the July/August 2009 issue
Categories Art, political, culture, progressive, literature
Frequency Monthly
Total circulation
First issue 1998
Country United States
Based in Brooklyn
Language American English
ISSN 2157-2151

The Brooklyn Rail is a journal of arts, culture, and politics published monthly in Brooklyn, NY. The journal features in-depth interviews with artists, critics, and curators, as well as critical essays, fiction, and poetry, and coverage of music, dance, film, and theater. The Brooklyn Rail is free and is distributed in galleries, universities, museums, bookstores, and other cultural venues throughout New York City and Brooklyn, including Anthology Film Archives, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, MoMA PS1, BAM, La MaMa, The Kitchen, Columbia University School of the Arts, The New School, and Yale University, among others.[1] The Rail also operates a small press that publishes literary translations, poetry, and art criticism under Rail Editions, and organizes panel discussions, poetry and fiction readings, film screenings, music and dance performances, and curates exhibitions through its program the Rail Curatorial Projects.


Started as a broadsheet in 1998, with several founders,[2] the Rail became a full-format publication in 2000, under the direction of publisher Phong Bui and then-editor Theodore Hamm. It was originally to be read on the L train between Manhattan and Brooklyn, but quickly expanded to its current form. Bui comments that it's largely the support of the art community and funding from art foundations that makes it possible for each section to offer their equal and indispensable voices to the journal. Hamm notes that the Rail's non-profit funding, largely provided by private donors, has preserved the magazine's original aspiration to publish a crucible of "slanted opinions, artfully delivered."[3]

Mission and operation

The Rail, organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is unusual for a periodical in that the respective editor of each section has editorial autonomy. Sections include: Field Notes (political coverage and commentary), Art (interviews with artists and art historians), Artseen (reviews of art exhibits), Art Books (reviews of art publications), Books (reviews of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), Music (album and concert reviews), Dance (dance criticism), Film (film criticism), Theater (theater and performance criticism), Fiction (original and newly translated fiction), and Poetry (experimental poetry). Each issue, from February 2012 onwards,[4] also includes a Critics Page section directed by a guest editor that focuses on a particular critical theme or issue.[5]


The Rail's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Phong Bui is an artist, writer, curator, and the former curatorial advisor of MoMA PS1 (2007-2010). The Rail's rotating guest editorship has thus far included critics such as Robert Storr, Dore Ashton, Irving Sandler, Carter Ratcliff, Elizabeth Baker, Bill Berkson, Mary Ann Caws, Ken Johnson, and Barbara Rose, among others.

Laila Pedro is the Rail's managing editor and Sara D. Christoph is the managing director. Both are also contributing writers. Walter Chiu and Maggie Barrett are the Rail's creative directors.[6] Yasaman Alipour is the digital art director.[6] David Giglio is the web developer.[6] Don Leistman is the webmaster.[6] Vanessa Thill is the advertising associate.[6] Zack Garlitos is the staff photographer. The current production assistants are Alexandra Fowle, Connie Kang, Clarisse Fahrtmann, and Sarah Steadman.[6] Current editorial interns are Louis Block and Belinda Liu. [6]

The Rail's managing Art editors are Corina Larkin, Kara Rooney, and Charles Schultz. The associate Art editors are Margaret Graham and Chloe Wyma. The assistant Art editor is Taylor Dafoe. The Art Books editors are Ben Gottlieb and Greg Lindquist. The Books editors are Katie Rolnick and Joseph Salvatore. The Music editor is George Grella. The assistant Music editor is Marshall Yarborough. The Dance editor is Stephanie Del Rosso. The Theater editor is Emily DeVoti and the associate Theater editors are Mark Armstrong and Addie Johnson. The Field Notes editor is Paul Mattick. Film editors include Rachel A. Rakes and Leo Goldsmith. The Fiction editor is Donald Breckenridge. The assistant Fiction editor is Claudia Acevedo-Quinones. The Intranslation co-editors are Donald Breckenridge and Jen Zoble. The Poetry editor is Anselm Berrigan. Contributing editors include Daniel Baird, Williams Cole, Christian Parenti, Heather Rogers, and Hirsh Sawhney. Editors at large include Ben La Rocco, Claudia La Rocco, Alan Lockwood, Ellen Pearlman, Thomas Micchelli, Johannah Rodgers, and Joan Waltemath. Consulting editors include Dore Ashton, Joseph Masheck, Paul Mattick, Jonas Mekas, Irving Sandler, Katy Siegel, Robert Storr, David Levi Strauss, and David Shapiro.[6]


'The American painter and photographer Chuck Close called the Rail, "This generation's organ of choice in which art historians, critics, and artists themselves weigh in on the most significant art being shown as well as little known and often overlooked work by emerging, middle, and older aged artists."

Robert Storr has called it "the murmur of the city in print." Paul Auster has said that it "covers the waterfront in a highly responsible and original way, mixing controversial political journalism with poetry, the arts, and nearly everything else of importance in this complex, ever-changing city." Former Nation publisher Victor Navasky considered it "a non-establishment paper that questioned the establishment's assumptions without falling victim to the counterculture's pieties."

For the late Nancy Spero, the paper was "an eminently readable, informative, and intellectually wide-ranging publication, alert to current trends, controversies, and ideas, and filled with necessary information." John Ashbery called it "a newspaper that cares about literature and the arts and isn't afraid to say so."

The late Henry Luce III once noted that, "Years ago the most famous newspaper in Brooklyn was the Brooklyn Eagle. The rail is also a bird, and so it is fitting that the Eagle’s successor is The Brooklyn Rail. It is a splendid publication that covers the arts, politics, and culture. I heartily recommend it.” [7]

In 2013 the Rail was awarded the Best Art Reporting by the International Association of Art Critics, United States Section (AICA-USA). [8][9]

Rail Curatorial Projects

In 2013, the Brooklyn Rail established Rail Curatorial Projects, an initiative to manifest the journal's goals within an exhibition context. That same year, the Brooklyn Rail was invited by the Daedalus Foundation to curate an exhibition which resulted in Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year One,[10] a momentous exhibition of hundreds of New York and Brooklyn artists. In 2014, the exhibition was commemorated in a hardcover catalogue. Since then, the Rail Curatorial Projects has curated a number of shows including Spaced Out: Migration to the Interior at Red Bull Studios[11] and Bloodflames Revisited at Paul Kasmin Gallery in 2014,[12] Intimacy in Discourse: Reasonable and Unreasonable Sized Paintings at SVA Chelsea Gallery[13] and Mana Contemporary[14] as well as Social Ecologies at Industry City[15] in 2015, and Hallway Hijack at 66 Rockwell Place[16] in 2016.

Rail Editions

In addition to the print journal and the Rail Curatorial Projects, the Rail runs Rail Editions, a small press that publishes poetry, experimental fiction, criticism, and works in translation. [17] Previous titles include: On Ron Gorchov, (2008) edited by Phong Bui; Pieces of a Decade: Brooklyn Rail Nonfiction 2000-2010, (2010) edited by Theodore Hamm and Williams Cole; Texts on (Texts on) Art, (2012) a collection of essays by the art historian Joseph Masheck; The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology 2, (2013) edited by Donald Breckenridge; Cephalonia, (2016) a narrative poem by Luigi Ballerini; and Swept Up By Art, (2016) the second memoir of the art historian and critic Irving Sandler.[18]

Notable interviews

Guest art editors

Special Editions

See also


  1. "The Brooklyn Rail". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  3. "The Brooklyn Rail". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  4. "The Brooklyn Rail". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  5. "The Brooklyn Rail". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "The Brooklyn Rail". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  7. Phong Bui. "What is the Miami Rail?". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  8. "AICA Announces Best Show Awards for 2013 - News - Art in America". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  10. Smith, Roberta, "Art, A Balm After the Storm" New York Times, December 12, 2013
  19. Delia Bajo. "Marina Abramović". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  20. "AGNÈS B. with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  21. "CARL ANDRE with Michèle Gerber Klein and Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  22. "LYNDA BENGLIS with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  23. "ROSAMOND BERNIER with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  24. "JOE BRADLEY with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  25. "George Braziller with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  26. "Vija Celmins with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  27. "An Interview". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  28. "T. J. Clark with Kathryn Tuma". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  29. "Chuck Close with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  30. "JOHN ELDERFIELD and PETER GALASSI with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  31. "AGNES GUND with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  32. "JOSEPHINE HALVORSON with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  33. "ALANNA HEISS with David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro, with the assistance of Gaby Collins-Fernandez". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  34. "Jasper Johns with John Yau". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  35. "Alex Katz with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  36. "FRAN LEBOWITZ with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  37. "CONSTANCE LEWALLEN with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  38. "LEONARD LOPATE with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  39. "In Conversation: Brice Marden with Chris Martin". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  40. Phong Bui. "Elizabeth Murray". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  41. "SHIRIN NESHAT with Carol Becker & Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  42. "Orhan Pamuk with Carol Becker". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  43. "MIKHAIL PIOTROVSKY with David Carrier & Joachim Pissarro". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  44. "TAL R with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  45. "JOCK REYNOLDS with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  46. "JOYCE ROBINS with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  47. "SIR NORMAN ROSENTHAL with David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  48. "Richard Serra with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  49. "LANE RELYEA with Katy Siegel". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  50. "Roberta Smith with Irving Sandler". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  51. "SARAH SZE with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  52. "In Conversation with PETER LAMBORN WILSON". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  53. "JOE ZUCKER with Phong Bui". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  63. 1 2
  72. Carter Ratcliff
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