In 1959, immediately after the publication of the ‘Neoconcrete Manifesto’, the Brazilian poet and critic Ferreira Gullar embarked on an art historical series, ‘Stages of Contemporary Art’, published in weekly installments in the Suplemento Dominical do Jornal
do Brasil. Explicitly teleological in narrative form, the series sought to re-evaluate the theoretical development of modern art in light of contemporary experiments in Brazil. This article examines the intersection of this historiographic project, as well as Gullar's subsequent rejection
of the formalist vanguard for the ‘engaged’ art of the political left, in keeping with the pedagogical initiatives of the Superior Institute of Brazilian Studies (ISEB), which sought to elaborate an ‘ideology for development’ between the mid-1950s and the military coup
in 1964. In light of these overlapping histories, this article argues that Gullar's formulations of the ‘non-object’ and the ‘open work’ correspond to both the potentiality and limits of the concept of national ideology operative at the time.