The Brooklyn Rail

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The Brooklyn Rail
Brooklyn Rail logo.svg
April 2020 Brooklyn Rail Cover.jpg
Cover of the April 2020 issue
CategoriesArt, politics, culture, literature
Total circulation
First issue2000
CountryUnited States
Based inBrooklyn
LanguageAmerican English

The Brooklyn Rail is a publication and platform for the arts, culture, humanities, and politics. The Rail is based out of Brooklyn, New York. It features in-depth critical essays, fiction, poetry, as well as interviews with artists, critics, and curators, and reviews of art, music, dance, film, books, and theater.

The Rail's print publication is published ten times a year and distributed to universities, galleries, museums, bookstores, and other organizations around the world free of charge.[1] The Rail operates a small press called Rail Editions, which publishes literary translations, poetry, and art criticism. In addition to the small press, the Rail has also organized panel discussions, readings, film screenings, music and dance performances, and has curated exhibitions through a program called Rail Curatorial Projects. Notable among these exhibitions is "Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale that Society Has the Capacity to Destroy: Mare Nostrum" co-curated by Francesca Pietropaolo and Phong Bui, an official Collateral Event of the 2019 Venice Biennale, which ran at Chiesa delle Penitenti, Venice from May to November 2019.


The Brooklyn Rail is committed to supporting artists in their journey and elevating the important role that the arts and humanities play in shaping our society.[2]


Originally distributed as reading material for commuters on the L-train between Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Rail began as a small broadsheet with opinions printed in four columns in 1998.[3] The founding editors included: Joe Maggio, Christian Viveros-Fauné, Theodore Hamm, and Patrick Walsh. The group first began publishing the paper as a weekly double-sided sheet. Smith designed the Rail's logo.[4]

By 2000, the journal had quickly grown into a full-format publication, with Phong Bui and then-editor Theodore Hamm sharing oversight duties. Bui comments that it's largely due to support from the arts community, and funding from art foundations, that has made it possible for the journal to maintain its creative autonomy. 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."[5]

Editors have included Williams Cole, Christian Parenti, Heather Rogers, Daniel Baird, Emily DeVoti, Alan Lockwood, Ellen Pearlman, Donald Breckenridge, Monica de la Torre, and many more.

As of 2017, the Rail has interviewed over four hundred artists. A compilation of artist interviews, called Tell Me Something Good: Artist Interviews from The Brooklyn Rail, was published in 2017. Interviews include Richard Serra and Brice Marden to Alex Da Corte and House of Ladosha. The book was coedited by Jarrett Earnest and Lucas Zwirner and published through David Zwirner Books The collection includes an introduction by Phong Bui and a selection of hand-drawn portraits he has made of those he has interviewed over the years.[6]

Notable contributors[edit]


Rail Curatorial Projects[edit]

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 Dedalus Foundation to curate an exhibition which resulted in Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year One (2013, Industry City),[7] a momentous exhibition of hundreds of New York and Brooklyn artists. Come Together was named the #1 exhibition in New York City by Jerry Saltz in New York Magazine[8] and in the New York Times, Roberta Smith wrote, “This egalitarian show makes palpable the greatness of New York’s real art world.”[9] In 2014, the exhibition was commemorated in a hardcover catalogue.

Since then, the Rail Curatorial Projects has curated a number of shows including Ad Reinhardt at 100 at TEMP Art Space;[10][11] Spaced Out: Migration to the Interior (2014, Red Bull Studios);[12][13][14] Bloodflames Revisited (2014, Paul Kasmin Gallery);[15][16][17] and 24/7 (2014, Miami Beach Monte Carlo);[18][19] Intimacy in Discourse: Reasonable and Unreasonable Sized Paintings (2015, SVA Chelsea Gallery and Mana Contemporary)[20][21][22] as well as Social Ecologies at Industry City;[23][24] Patricia Cronin's Shrine for Girls[25][26][27] at the Venice Biennale in 2015; Hallway Hijack[28][29] at 66 Rockwell Place in 2016. In 2017, Rail Curatorial Projects curated Occupy Mana: Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity to Destroy;[30][31][32] Hallway Hijack (2016, 66 Rockwell Place); OCCUPY MANA: Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity to Destroy, Year 1 (2017, Mana Contemporary).

In May 2019, the Rail was invited to curate an exhibition for the 2019 Venice Biennale. The show was a continuation of 2017's OCCUPY MANA, curated by the Rail's Phong Bui and Italian art historian, critic and curator Francesca Pietropaolo, the show consisted of 73 different artists; with works discussing the social and ecological climate of our reality titled 'Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale that Society Has the Capacity to Destroy: Mare Nostrum (2019, Venice Biennale).[33][34][35] The Rail Curatorial Projects opened OCCUPY COLBY: Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity to Destroy, Year 2 (2019, Colby Museum of Art).[36] The show was on the same lengths of OCCUPY MANA[30] as well as Social Environment.[33]

We the Immigrants[edit]

We the Immigrants is a project that at promotes and elevates immigrants in the many communities across America. It honors the artists and innovators who have immigrated to the U.S. and made an impact across the sciences, arts, and humanities.[37] It is an ongoing online project, featuring links to Wikipedia pages and organizes immigrants along with their name, country of origin and year of birth in a checkered layout inspired by Zoom.[38]

The New Social Environment[edit]

In March, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City forced arts organizations and museums around the world to close their doors, the team at the Brooklyn Rail shifted their operations online and started hosting daily conversations with artists, writers, poets, filmmakers, dancers, and musicians around the world. Called The New Social Environments, these daily lunchtime conversations wink at artist Joseph Beuys’s concept of Social Sculpture, where making art is less fleeting and precious and more woven democratically into our lives.[39] There have been over 200 archived conversations as of January 2020 and guests have included Kent Monkman, Kay Gabriel, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Giuseppe Penone, Noam Chomsky, Thelma Golden, Ai Wei Wei, Rosa Barba,[Jordan Casteel]], Paul D. Miller, Luca Buvoli,[Eric Fischl]], and Yvonne Rainier.

Rail Editions[edit]

Rail Editions is a press imprint of the Brooklyn Rail which publishes books of art, poetry, fiction, artists’ writings, works in translation, and more.

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; Oh Sandy! A Remembrance, (2015), a collection of poems commissioned in the wake of superstorm Hurricane Sandy; Cephalonia, (2016) a narrative poem by Luigi Ballerini; Swept Up By Art, (2016) the second memoir of the art historian and critic Irving Sandler; and Our Book: Florbela Espanca Selected Poems, (2018) the first translation into English of Portuguese poet Florbela Espanca's poetry.[40] Words Apart and Others[41](2018) by Jonas Mekas as well as a companion of responses, Message Ahead (2018) were published in 2018.[42] Bending Concepts features a collection of 26 artists, writers, and critics thoughts on visual culture and society during the mid-2010s. Edited by Jonathan T.D., Bending Concepts includes notable works by Claire Bishop, David Levi Strauss, Ariella Azoulay, Sheila Heti, and many more.[43]

Special editions[edit]


Robert Storr has called it "the murmur of the city in print."[48]

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."[48]

Poet John Ashbery has written: "how wonderful to have a new newspaper that cares about literature and the arts and isn't afraid to say so. The Brooklyn Rail is a welcome addition to the New York scene."[48]

American painter Alex Katz has said that the Rail "has the young energy that goes with the young people who come to New York to grow in the arts. It would be a bad city without it. If it wasn't for the Brooklyn Rail, the city would be a desert.”[49]

In 2013 the Rail was awarded the Best Art Reporting by the International Association of Art Critics, United States Section (AICA-USA).[50][51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  2. ^ "The Brooklyn Rail". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  3. ^ "Corrections: November 4, 2015". The New York Times. 4 November 2015.
  4. ^ "note". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  5. ^ "The Brooklyn Rail". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  6. ^ "David Zwirner Books · Tell Me Something Good: Artist Interviews from The Brooklyn Rail". David Zwirner Books. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  7. ^ Smith, Roberta, "Art, A Balm After the Storm" New York Times, December 12, 2013
  8. ^ "The 10 Best Art Shows of the Year". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  9. ^ Smith, Roberta (2013-12-06). "'Come Together: Surviving Sandy' Samples 300 Artists". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  10. ^ "Ad Reinhardt At 100 | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  11. ^ Cembalest, Robin (2013-11-13). "The Semi-Secret History of Modernism's Best Comic Artist". ARTnews. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  12. ^ "Spaced Out | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  13. ^ "Artist and Curator Phong Bui On What Brooklyn Culture Means in 2014". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  14. ^ "Total Work of Art: "Spaced Out" at Red Bull Studios – artcritical". artcritical. 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  15. ^ "Bloodflames Revisited | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  16. ^ Johnson, Ken (2014-08-07). "Phong Bui Curates 'Bloodflames Revisited'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  17. ^ Akel, Joseph (16 September 2014). "Bloodflames Revisited". Frieze (166). Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  18. ^ "In and Around AMBM". Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  19. ^ "24/7 | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  20. ^ Kedmey, Karen (2015-11-29). "Smaller is Better in Exhibition of Paintings at Mana Contemporary and SVA Chelsea Gallery". Artsy. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  21. ^ "Intimacy in Discourse: Unreasonable Sized Paintings". School of Visual Arts | SVA | New York City. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  22. ^ "Intimacy in Discourse: and Unreasonable Sized Paintings". Mana Contemporary. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  23. ^ ""Social Ecologies" – Art in America". 17 December 2015.
  24. ^ "Social Ecologies | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  25. ^ "Shrine For Girls | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  26. ^ Frank, Priscilla (2015-04-14). "Heartbreaking 'Shrine For Girls' Pays Tribute To Young Female Martyrs Around The World". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  27. ^ "Aesthetica Magazine – Patricia Cronin, Shrine for Girls, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice". Aesthetica Magazine. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  28. ^ "Hallway Hijack | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  29. ^ "19 Artists Hijacked the Hallways of a Brooklyn High-rise". 22 June 2016.
  30. ^ a b "Occupy Mana | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  31. ^ "Tomas Vu and Rirkrit Tiravanija in "Occupy Mana: Artists Need to Create at the Same Scale as Society has the Capacity to Destroy," 2017". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  32. ^ "Editors' Picks: 18 Things to See in New York This Week | artnet News". artnet News. 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  33. ^ a b "The Rail at the 2019 Venice Biennale". Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  34. ^ "Science and Magic: Environmental Impact at the Biennale". Cultured Magazine. 2019-05-10. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  35. ^ "There's a Flood of Climate Change-Related Art at the Venice Biennale. Can It Make a Difference—Or Is It Adding to the Problem?". artnet News. 2019-05-06. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  36. ^ "Occupy Colby: Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity to Destroy, Year 2". Colby College Museum of Art. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  37. ^ "We The Immigrants". Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  38. ^ "'We The Immigrants' photo exhibit on Payne Avenue latest in project to elevate immigrant voices". Twin Cities. 2020-11-25. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  39. ^ Prosek, James (2020-10-23). "Artists in Isolation Make a New Window on the World". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-10.
  40. ^ "Brooklyn Rail : Store : Rail Editions".
  41. ^ "Brooklyn Rail : Store : Rail Editions : Words Apart and Others by Jonas Mekas". Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  42. ^ "Brooklyn Rail : Store : Rail Editions : Message Ahead". Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  43. ^ "Bending Concepts: The Held Essays on Visual Art". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2021-03-10.
  44. ^ "The Brooklyn Rail – An Independent Forum for Visual Arts, Culture, and Politics – RIVER RAIL".
  45. ^ "The Brooklyn Rail – An Independent Forum for Visual Arts, Culture, and Politics – I LOVE JOHN GIORNO".
  46. ^ "The Brooklyn Rail – An Independent Forum for Visual Arts, Culture, and Politics – ART CRIT EUROPE".
  47. ^ "The Brooklyn Rail – An Independent Forum for Visual Arts, Culture, and Politics – AD REINHARDT".
  48. ^ a b c "The Brooklyn Rail". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2018-05-08.
  49. ^ "The Brooklyn Rail". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  50. ^ "AICA Announces Best Show Awards for 2013 – News – Art in America". 26 April 2005. Retrieved 11 May 2015.



External links[edit]

  1. ^ Farago, Jason (2020-09-30). "The Philip Guston Show Should Be Reinstated". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-17.
  2. ^ Somaiya, Ravi (2015-11-02). "The Hustle of Publishing Art News in the Postprint Era (Published 2015)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-17.