The Brooklyn Rail
Cover of the July/August 2009 issue
|Categories||Art, political, culture, progressive, literature|
|First issue||September 2000|
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. 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 reading, film screenings, music and dance performances, and curate exhibitions through its program the Rail Curatorial Projects.
Started as a broadsheet in 1998, 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."
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, also includes a Critics Page section directed by a guest editor that focuses on a particular critical theme or issue.
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.
Sara Roffino is the Rail's managing editor and Sara D. Christoph is the managing director. Both are contributing writers. Anna Tome, the Rail's distribution manager, Maggie Barrett, the Rail's assistant art director, and Cy Morgan lead the Rail Curatorial Projects. Walter Chiu is the Rail's art director. David Giglio is the web developer. Don Leistman is the webmaster. Joie Estrella Horwitz is the advertising associate. And Zack Garlitos and Owen Keogh both work as photographers for the Rail. The current production assistants are Yasaman Alipour, Adrian D. Coto, Gaby Collins-Fernandez, Diana DiMare, Samuel B. Feldblum, Andrea Gordillo, Maya Harakawa, Kathleen Hefty, Darragh McNicholas.
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.
The Brooklyn Rail has been endorsed by a number of prominent members of the New York art and literary community. 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.” 
In addition to the print journal, the Rail runs Rail Editions, a small press, and the Rail Curatorial Project.
- In 2013 the Rail was awarded the Best Art Reporting by the International Association of Art Critics, United States Section (AICA-USA) 
- In 2013 the Brooklyn Rail was invited by the Daedalus Foundation, to curate an exhibition, which resulted in Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year One," a momentous exhibition of hundreds of New York and Brooklyn artists. In 2014, the exhibition was commemorated in a hardcover catalogue.
- In 2013, Rail Editions published The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology 2, edited by Donald Breckenridge, the Rail's fiction editor.
- In 2013, The Brooklyn Rail established Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects, an initiative to make manifest the goals of the publication within an exhibition context.
- In 2012, Rail Editions published "Texts on (Texts on) Art," a collection of essays by the art historian Joseph Masheck.
- In 2010, Rail Editions published Pieces of a Decade: Brooklyn Rail Nonfiction 2000-2010, edited by Theodore Hamm and Williams Cole.
- In 2009, The Brooklyn Rail commissioned a drawing by William Powhida called How the New Museum Committed Suicide with Banality for the cover of the November 2009 issue. The drawing featured caricatures of individuals involved in the controversial Skin Fruit exhibition at the New Museum, including Jeff Koons.
- In 2006, Hanging Loose Press published The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology, edited by Donald Breckenridge.
- Marina Abramović
- Carl Andre
- Lynda Benglis
- George Braziller
- Paul Chan
- T.J. Clark
- Jasper Johns
- Alex Katz
- Fran Lebowitz
- Leonard Lopate
- Brice Marden
- Elizabeth Murray
- Shirin Neshat
- Orhan Pamuk
- Richard Serra
- Roberta Smith
- Peter Lamborn Wilson
- Joe Zucker
- List of New York City newspapers and magazines
- Media of New York City
- List of art magazines
- List of literary magazines
- Smith, Roberta, "Art, A Balm After the Storm" New York Times, December 12, 2013
- Pogrebin, Robin. "Other Voices on the New Museum's Exhibition". New York Times. November 11, 2009.