Mangelos (Dimitrije Basicevic)
Born 1921, Sid, Serbia
Died 1987, Zagreb, Croatia
For 40 years, the Croatian art historian Dimitrije Basicevic made art under the
pseudonym Mangelos. His work includes watercolors, paintings, altered books,
drawings, and a series of more than 20 globes, many inscribed with manifestos on
topics as diverse as philosophy, art, and mechanization. For Mangelos, the
manifesto—a declaration of ideological intent—was the ultimate example of
"functional thinking," a concept inspired by a postwar world dominated by
technology, which Mangelos believed had replaced the metaphorical thinking of a
more naive age. Mangelos' manifestos employ a range of descriptive systems:
alphabets, mathematical proofs, scientific theories, and perceptual schemas. These
systems, according to the artist, were the logical heirs to the defunct metaphorical
ones, such as philosophy, religion, and art. Inherently nonspecific and unprovable,
metaphorical modes of thinking were obsolete in a contemporary society that was automated,
planned, and rational. This selection, co-organized with curator Branka Stipancic,
emphasizes Mangelos' manifestos. Contradicting their declarative aspect, these models of
"functional thinking" frustrate meaning, ultimately creating a kind of "no meaning."
Drained of their referents, they are examples of functionalism without function and of
the logical taken to the level of the absurd.
Dimitrijevic, Nena. "Gorgona: Art as a Way of Existence." In Laura Hoptman and Tomás Pospiszyl, eds. Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Eastern and Central European Art since the 1950s. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2002, 124–40.
IRWIN, ed. "East Art Map–A (Re)-Construction of the History of Art in Eastern Europe." New Moment Magazine (Ljubljana) 20 (2002): 28.
Stilinovic, Mladen. "Interview with Dmitri Basicevic Mangelos." In Mangelos. Zagreb: Galerija Doma JNA, 1986. Reprinted in Moment (Belgrade), nos. 6–7 (1986): 21–24.
Stipancic, Branka. Mangelos nos. 1 to 9 1/2. Exhibition catalogue. Porto, Portugal: Fundação Serralves, 2003.
Stipancic, Branka, ed. Rijeci i slike/Words and Images. Zagreb: Soros Center for Contemporary Art, 1995.