Dimitrije Basicevic Mangelos

(Šid 1921.-Zagreb 1987.)
The „case “ of Dimitrije Basicevic Mangelos is a case without precedent in the history of contemporary art. Art historian, with a Phd in art history, museum worker and art critic Dimitrije Basicevic, with meaningful roles in professions he was dealing with in public for decades, for a long time was carrying and fostering inside himself secret and hidden vocation of an artist who started his artistic practice back in 1941, developing this practice later on under the artistic pseudonym Mangelos. Mangelos has made available his artistic production only to rare acquaintances and he showed it in public only under the veil of discretion. Dimitrije studied art history on the Faculty of Philosophy in Vienna (1942-44) and in Zagreb (1945-49), where he got a degree as well as his Phd in 1957, with a thesis on Sava Sumanovic. He was mainly dealing with art critic. Dimitrije founded the Gallery of primitive art and afterwards, he was a director of The Center for Photography, Film and TV which was a part of The Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. He started using pseudonym Mangelos (which comes from the name of a small place near Shid), under which he will make his artistic production, in 1959. In the same year he became a member of the artistic group Gorgona. His first public appearance as an artist took place on the exhibition Permanent Art, Gallery 212, Belgrade 1968.
International valorization and reputation Mangelos has gained posthumously through many independent exhibitions in the leading artistic centres throughout the world, and through the acquisitions of his work done by prestige museum and private collections.
“In the memory of art history, prominent art historian and critic Dimitrije Basicevic, without loosing on his previous position, to his own character of “one person with two lifes” added another, more reputable status of an artist – Mangelos. As an art critic, Basicevic has devoted himself in the period of post-socrealistic renewal of post-war modernism in the early 1950s to new valorization and new interpretation of the classics of the art of the first half of 20th century (Vidovic, Herman, Steiner, Spring saloon, Tartaglia, and especially Sumanovic), of the innovations of that time (Lubarda, EXAT-51, Bakic, Stancic, Vanista etc.). He has especially supported naïve art, insisting on its authenticity which has roots outside the history, and because of this he came into a clash with those intellectuals who represented historical genesis of domestic naïve art with the center in Hlebine school. In his late critic activity he devoted himself to introducing new media in practice of contemporary art and he supported the conceptual art group Šestorica.
As an artist, Mangelos created extremely original art work, without comparison and similarities with the other artists of his time. His most often media are notebooks, school tables and globes which he uses as redecorated ready-mades and on them he writes letters, words, sentences and the whole essays in latin alphabet, or cyrilic and glagolitic letters, whose content was filled with hermeneutic and enigmatic meaning. Without a desire to call this activity of his, an art, he invented a term no-art for this activity. His creations are based on the following paradox: “writing a painting, painting literature”, or according to his own proclamation: “negating the painting, by creating it from the words, negating the word by painting it”. On his own way he announces and transforms into action conceptual art sui generis.” (Jesa Denegri)
Work of Dimitrije Basicevic Mangelos can be found in the collections of the most prestige museums like: The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), Center George Pompidou in Paris, Tate Modern in London, Mönchengladbach in Germany, Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, etc.

© Ilija&Mangelos Foundation 2017 Site by Argo Network