Fred Burkhart has used his camera to capture people and places overlooked or brushed away by society, keenly focused on the human condition. In his estimation, "...everybody's the same, if you get down to the basic person. I don't care what their political persuasion is, their religion or shall we say 'style', if you get what I mean. If you can get past people's politics and their sex life and their religion you're home safe." Burkhart's work features scenes as disparate as Venice, CA in the summer of love, street derelicts, gay pride, to the private lives of Midwest KKK families.
Fred Burkhart was born in Cincinnati, OH, moving to Chicago, IL after school. Initially a self-taught painter, Burkhart studied from the masters while wandering Chicago's Art Institute during the days and sleeping in abandoned buildings at night. He was introduced to photography by a friend in 1966, who gave him his old broken camera and said, 'Burkhart, you should become a photographer'. His fascination with using the camera as a means of understanding and communicating with fringe cultures has lead him to document a variety of marginalized communities. He is founder of the Burkhart Underground, a community that has inspired a new generation of underground artists in Chicago, and has captured the face of Chicago's underground scene for over 30 years.