Getting a show in a museum is like the Super Bowl to me. When you get up on that wall, you gotta have people running up to that wall and you gotta put a smile on their faces. And at the end of the show, just like at the end of the game, people are going to be shaking your hand, saying, “Good job!” You want to walk through your neighbourhood and you want people to be proud of you. They’re like, “Good game!” You want to be the baddest thing they’ve ever seen.
So that’s how I play it in the art game. They put me next to Picasso, I’m gonna kick his ass. They put me next to any artist, I’m gonna kick his ass too.
Dapper Bruce Lafitte grew up in the Lafitte Housing Development in the 6th Ward of New Orleans. This community has inspired his art so much that he has taken the name Dapper Bruce Lafitte to acknowledge its impact on his life. This inspiration is also apparent when you view Bruce’s vibrantly detailed drawings chronicling his life in New Orleans. While Bruce is not shy about tackling the gritty subjects of poverty and racism, his art also documents the joyful parts of his life in the city.
Dapper Bruce Lafitte is an artist whose work is capable of breaking down the partition which separates folk art from fine art once and for all. These are big issues: how we define and reduce our culture through effective catch phrases and ineffective oppositions like fine versus folk, outsider versus insider, trained versus self-taught or vernacular. All these characterizations ring hollow today. They are fraught with the prejudices and contradictions of class and racial manipulation, no less so when they are deployed in the study of the liberal humanities. Lafitte escapes these confines in several ways. Through his connection to the street, public art and community rebuilding, he has focused on his local sub-cultures and folk-cultures, with the mind of a contemporary urbanist.
Excerpt: Erin McNutt “Dapper Bruce Lafitte and the Grittier Side of Art” New Orleans Canvas Magazine, 04.03.2018
Dapper Bruce Lafitte b. 1972. Lives and works in New Orleans.
Recent exhibitions include: ‘R.I.P. Diego Cortez (I’m Claiming Back My Area)’, Gryder Gallery, New Orleans, US (2021); ‘Stuck Inside’, FIERMAN Gallery New York, US (2020); ‘When You Dance You Make Me Happy (Works from the Collection of Lucianno Benetton), Gallerie Delle Prigioni, Treviso, IT (2019).
Lafitte is currently participating in the exhibition ‘Ceremony (Burial of an Undead World)’, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, DE, until Dec 30, and Arcade will presented his works at the recent edition of Artissima as selected by Irina Zucca Alessandrelli, Curator of Collezione Ramo (Italian Drawings of the 20th Century)