Dimitrije Bašičević was born on April 14, 1921 in Šid, to a family of farmers. He attended elementary school in his village, and high school in Sremska Mitrovica, Sremski Karlovci and Vukovar. He studied history of art and philosophy in Vienna and in Zagreb where he graduated in 1949. Untill 1960 he was assistant and curator of the Modern Gallery and Art Archives at the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences. Beginning in 1952 he was also involved with the Gallery of Peasants' Art (later Gallery of Primitive Art) where he later became curator. He organized numerous exhibitions in the country and abroad, and published essays and art reviews. He made significant contributions in the promotion of abstract art. In addition to his writing, he helped to organize the Salon 54 in Rijeka, the first exhibition of abstract art to be held in a public institution in Yugoslavia. In 1956 he curated Milan Sfeiner's retrospective. He received his Ph. D. from the Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy in 1957, with a thesis on Sava Sumanovic. He is a contributor to the Art Encyclopedia and the author of books on Mirko Virius (1950), Sava Sumanovic (1960) and Ivan Generalic (l 962). When the Gallery of Primitive Art was founded in 1960, he was its first curator. In 1964 he resigned because of the »Bosilj case« (Ilija Bosilj, a well-known naive painter, is Bašičević's father).
Mangelos became curator of the Benko Horvat collection and from 1971 he was head of the newly founded Centre for Film, Photography and Television. He took part in the organization of New Tendencies, and was on the editorial staff of both Bit and Spot magazines. He published essays on photography and organized several important exhibitions. His last texts dealt with the newest generation of artists of the time. Many of his writings have remained unpublished. He retired in 1982.
Bašičević began writing while still in high school. He wrote poetry and short prose texts, some of which were published after the war under a pseudonym. During the war he produced his first artworks: paysages de la mort and paysages de la guerre. In the 50s he created several series of works (tabula rasa, alphabet, paysages, nostories, graphs, negation de la peinture, pythagoras) which he was later to repeat obsessively. These works/texts in various languages and alphabets resemble neat calligraphy on writing tablets, although different materials are used: wooden boards, paper, exercise books, books, globes. Bašičević assumed the name of Mangelos which he used for his »private experiment, called Noart«.
His poems were published in the graphic cyclical work Eulalia illustrated by Matija Skurjeni (1959). At the same time he created the cyclical work, Guernica, illustrated by Ivan Generalić, which was not published.
Between 1959 and 1966 he was active in Gorgona, an informal artistic group named after one of his poems. His project for the Gorgona anti-magazine was not realized. He published several no-stories in Picelj's magazine in 1964. In the 60s he produced a considerable number of works. From 1968 he took part in visual poetry exhibitions. In the late 60s he created a series on Picasso which was exhibited at his first one-man show in Novi Sad in 1972. At the Gorgona retrospective in 1977 he exhibited his early work for the first time and this marked the beginning of his exposure to the public. One-man thematic shows followed: Manifestos (1978), Shid-theory (1978), Energy (1979), Retrospective (1981). Large retrospectives held in 1986 in Belgrade and Zagreb won him definitive recognition.
He died on December 18, 1987, after a long illness. In 1988 the Gallery of Expanded Media organized a round table on Bašičević's work and many of his works/texts were published for the first time (Quorum no. 1/1989).