Ken Johnson's review of the Scott Black exhibition didn't sit well with a few folks. Here are the letters that ran Sunday if you didn't catch 'em.
Ken Johnson’s opening attack on ‘‘The Romance of Modernism: Paintings and Sculpture From the Scott M. Black Collection’’ struck me as strangely negative and personal (‘‘Mixed blessing,’’ Weekend, Dec. 29). An art critic should focus his attention on the art, not the donor who generously chooses to share his paintings and resources with the public.
I can understand the temptation to knock Scott Black down a peg or two. Perhaps Black might have earned Ken Johnson’s praises if he had spent his money buying flavor-of-the-month trendy contemporary artists who sell for way too much money.
Since Johnson obviously wouldn’t be caught dead hanging a ‘‘vapid’’ portrait by Renoir, a ‘‘mediocre’’ Monet, or a ‘‘paint-by-numbers’’ Cross, what does he collect? Perhaps Johnson collects contemporary paintings that are so new that they have no history; that way he can pretend to be avant-garde. Or perhaps he zeros in on some not-well-collected category of drawings or prints — something esoteric that allows him to, again, play the art intellectual while bashing mere millionaires that collect third-rate paintings.
Ken Johnson’s review of the Scott Black Collection is mean-spirited at best and an ad hominem attack at worst. His arrogant and denigrating comments on the paintings and collector are well beyond the norms of artistic reviews, almost suggesting a personal animus. Shame on Johnson and the Globe for publishing such drivel. We readers expect more.
WALTER B. GOLDFARB