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Left: A-Bomb Victim, 1965(被爆者)

Right: Cusi working on Godzilla at Toho Studios, 1967.

Right: Agonized Prodigal Son, 1968(放蕩息子)

Left: Jizou, 1969(祈り地蔵)

Light of Civilization, 1970, Maribor, Slovenia.

(Cohabitation - 共生)

Light of Civilization series of works, 1971-74.

Death Sand (Ash) 1975.

Descending from top:

Left and Top Right - Eat Yourself (1975)

Bottom Right - This Is Time (1975)

Vacuum Zone #4 (真空地帯), 1977.

Vacuum Zone #5 (真空地帯) Poster, 1979.

Vacuum Zone #5 (真空地帯), 1979.

Eternal Performance #6-7, (1980)

"Human Condition"

"Cusi Becomes Butterfly", 1981.

Eternal Performance #8

Whitney Counterweight Performance

Eternal Performance #9, Human Condition, 1984.

Left: Eternal Performance #10 - sculpture: (thirsty a-bombed suffering pregnant woman begging to drink black rain water)(Wikipedia link), 2018

Right: Poster for 2018 Performance

Performance title: A-BOMB Victim- Black Rain

Bottom: Stills from performance

Assorted snap photos through the years.



Masami "Cusi" Masuda is a Japanese-American sculptor and a performance artist who lives in New York, NY. He was born in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan in 1944, right under Mount Fuji. In 1963 he entered Musashino ART University taking sculpture class. Musashino Art University, Musabi for short, was one of the best private art schools in Tokyo at the time, professing anti-system academics. That’s where he met Professor Takashi Shimizu “ 清水多嘉示”, who mastered sculpture in early 1920’s, also was classmates with Alberto Giacometti, under artist Antoine Bourldell who, in turn, studied under Rodin. When Professor Shimizu asked him, what is it that he wants to study in school, for one of the entry tests, Mr. Masuda answered, "I am very interested in 3 dimensional art," to which Professor Shimizu replied, “There are 4 dimensions.” Shimizu’s understanding of space and art left a big impression on Masami as a high school student . This is what influenced him to become a performance artist, conceiving time as art that goes beyond the 3rd dimension.


In 1961, he did two men show in Shizuoka, with Isamu Tokiwa-常葉勇 , a computer noise prints artist, ( modify printing pictures in distorted and fuzzy state). who later died in an accident . In 1963,’64,‘68, and ‘69 he attended “Ko-do bijutsu-行動 美術“, the leading abstract art group in Tokyo. In 1966 he was in a group show in Tokyo of “Genshoku-幻触” which influenced the “Monoha-物派” conceptual artist group and in the same year he attended young sculptors group "Kan-刊." In 1967 he was a part of ‘six sculptors group show, “Nobi” at Tokiwa gallery in Tokyo. His early works also include, 1968 stone sculpture symposium at Shodoshima, Kagawa prefecture, 1969, wood sculpture symposium at Tazawako Akita prefecture as Japan’s young sculptors group symposium.


In 1970, he attended Yugoslav international sculpture symposium called “Forma Viva”, which was outdoor cement work, from where he travels to USA , and then Mexico . 1971 he moved back to USA. In the same year he won 3rd prize at Silvermine guild in Connecticut, and Hudson River museum group show, upstate New York, accepted one of his sculptures. In 1973 he became a member of 14 sculptors coop gallery doing a group show.


In 1975 after he adopted the name ‘Cusi Masuda,’ a tribute to the Romanian artist Brancusi, he did a one man performance show at the 14 sculptor’s gallery at Thompson St, in Soho, and also a one man sculpture installation show at Azuma gallery in SoHo. In the same year, Cusi held a street performance in SoHo titled "Eat Yourself", right on Spring and West Broadway for an art festival. In collaboration with Ushio Shinohara ” 篠原有司男” who was influenced by leading influential japanese avant-garde post war artist Taro Okamoto “ 岡本太郎” and Shinohara was one of the main leaders of NEO DADA Movement in Japan in the mid 1960’s along with Hiraoka Hiroko "平岡弘子”, Kishimoto Kiyoko "岸本清子”, Yoshimura Masunobu “吉村益信”, Masuzawa Kinpei “升沢金平” , Toyoshima Soroku (豊島壮六), Santaro Tanabe “田辺三太郎” Shintaro Tanaka “ 田中信太朗, Kazakura Sho "風倉匠”, Tatsumi Yoshino ”吉野辰海” and Shusaku Arakawa, “荒 川修作” Shinohara showed first two weeks, followed by Cusi’s two weeks sculpture installation at Azusa galley. 1977 he starts art show performance in his own studio, “75 Hudson Performing Space”, where he continues to show four times every two years times until the mid 80’s.


In 1982 he gives lecture of performance at Rutgers University NJ. 1984 he attends Whitney counterweight group show performance - “Cusi Becomes Butterfly”. In 1985 he attends ”artist book” group show at Franklin Furnace curated by Nancy Spero. In 1999 he was selected “Out of Action and performance 1949-1979” at Los Angels contemporary museum and traveled Vienna, Barcelona , Tokyo. In 2006 he begins 10 year duration performance with photo work “10 year Haikai-徘徊 eternal performance”. In

2014 he does lecture at Nagoya art university Japan. In 2018 he does another lecture and performance at Musashino art university in Tokyo.


Early Life

Early life for Masuda wasn’t easy. Growing up in post World War II Japan was challenging. With the country in chaos, people sick, hungry, homeless it was a terrible environment to live in. Before WWII his father was a farmer who worked for a rich landowner. After the war when GHQ eliminated big farming system, he became poor since the land he was given wasn’t enough to sustain the family” 農地解放”.

Japan was rebuilding with mostly teenagers after graduate junior high、high schoolers who are the main work force since most of the adult population had been lost in the war, younger generations who, along with women, having escaped to the mountain side survived, had the difficult task to raise the country from the ashes. Not only did the soldiers die in this unspeakable tragedy but hundred thousands of civilians in many towns such, Tokyo ,Osaka, Nagoya ,Hiroshima, Nagasaki even hundreds other small towns in Okinawa , Shizuoka. Hundred thousands people killed , mass murdered by US air force for the purpose of diminishing Japanese race and the country itself. In this chaos Masuda lost three of his family members, including his father who died of sickness at 34 years old shortly after the war in 1948. After the death of his father the rest of the family moved around with the mother looking for the shelters that housed single mothers.


This childhood experience, and growing up with hard working young people rebuilding Japan with survivalist passion, influenced him deep physically , psychologically and visually which supported his creative impulse for continued activity as a visual and performance artist. He met artist Hirohiko Aono,”青野裕彦” who was a junior high school Art teacher who first taught him art, and then in high school , Artist Itou Takafumi “ 伊藤隆史 ”who was a member of artist group “ Zen-ei bijutukai-前衛美術会“, and 2 artist with 1 art critic group, Phoenix "火の鳥" - with Yoshinori Suzuki, “鈴木慶則” and Junzou Ishiko ”石子順造 ”, influenced by the left, which after the war became the group that crucially influenced Masuda to become artist. Itou give him art book of Kathe Kollwitz who was symbolism German artist with the late 19 century movement . “Zen- ei bijutukai” was avant-garde artists group, influenced by symbolism movement in Europe with passion of rebuilding Japan spiritually. Leading Japanese art critic Ichiro Hariu-針生一郎 praised Ito’s artwork of “Dai-Ikkai Nihon Andepandan exhibition-第一回日 本アンデパンダン展 ” in Japanese leading Art book ” Bijsutu Techo-美術手帖” with photographs of his 1947 artwork that he wrote about and praised his abstract art, expressing decadence of Japanese culture of life.


Fall 1989 essay from an issue of Sulfur Magazine, by Cusi Masuda.


”I was born 1944 in Japan near Tokyo 100 miles away. When Japan is in chaos in war and right after World War Two end, Whole things are abandoned. I lost father, sister, brother, 3 of 6 in family. After war, mother was almost dying lost right lung by tuberculosis. We wander to survive to find food and space to live after war. Fortunately we survived. I move to USA in 1971. I feel human being like, what is wall, what is air, what is light. What’s existence of body, What is space, what is object to feel, what is human being? But I know my body exist with nothing sure I feel.”


Life in Tokyo


After various odd jobs during studying in school, in 1963. Masuda worked for ex-sumo wrestler, sumo, an over one thousand-year old traditional wrestling sport, since “ Samurai-era”. He retired following hip injury and diabetes. Then he ran advertisement business with placard on hand with human sandwich ” サンドイッチマン” in the street after retirement. His name was Seiji Okubo,-Sekiwake Araiso-大久保清二、関脇荒磯 he did not have child so Masuda helped him like a son for four years, working night time only to see him reduced to poverty in his late life. Tradtional Edo culture “ 江戸文化” continues to survive, but slowly disappearing being evaded by American capitalist system evidently after the end of WWII. In daytime Masuda studied art with professor Shimizu who studied European art for five years-“ 西洋文化” in Paris. Both, Sumo Master Okubo and Professor Shimizu, masters for life, as Masuda calls them, impressed him greatly; the contradiction of two different cultures, east and west which became one of main conceptual themes throughout his art activity. In 1967 he worked for Toho Godzilla-“東宝ゴジラ” movie in which he helped and become assistant for four years, for sculptor Teizou Toshimitsu ”利光貞三”who made original Godzilla since first one until 1971. Also at the same time he assisted actor Haruo Nakajima ”中島春雄”who acted in Godzilla suite. Haruo also acted in “Seven Samurai” as a bandit, directed by Akira Kurosawa.


Life in New York


1971 then biggest, oldest bronze foundry “Roman bronze” in east cost USA worked as wax retoucher, mold maker that obtained  permanent residence in USA as technician for figurative sculpture 6 month later. Studied sculpture in art students league night time  while working  foundry. 1980- Studied anatomy at NY art academy. 1973- Started to work for NYC licensed plumber Sanford Stein as apprentice. 1994 become NYC licensed plumber as first Japanese American. By working as artist and plumber,  practiced contradiction  between metaphysical theme”虚業” and function of material ” 実業”. 1985, Mother moved to live with Masami in USA.


Concept of work


He survived through chaotic rebuilding of Japan after WWII. The environment, and people were brutally damaged physically and psychologically by American mass murder attack. But Japan did the same war practice to invade south east Asia including China and Korea. After 75 years of hard work for recovery, prosperity and economic rise in Americanized Japanese society, life is easier, but life style of traditional native folk culture has been disappearing, and feudalism system still remains as invisible foundation in this society, such as Emperor-ism as symbol that is still functioning and supporting Shinto culture that the emperor is believed to be God-like ”Arahitogami-現人神” Until WWII end. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear bombed after failing negotiation between Allies and the Japanese military regime under the emperor that denied Allied offers to eliminate existing emperorism and were it not for such things, if the deal was accepted, many countless innocent Japanese, Korean, etc. civilians could have survive, and no atomic bombs would be used. After surrender, many surviving war criminals took over governmental powers under a new constitution and continue to practice the system from before the war ended. And basically as anti-democratic system that has been breaking the constitution of Japan for seventy-five years with such absurdity that many Japanese scholars believe it's against law that everyone must have the birthdate of the name of emperor on top of the year of birth “ 年号” as the majority Japanese citizens have to care every day’s domestic life rather than thought and ideology of system. Cusi Masuda denies contemporary Japanese cultural phenomena and society by American influenced culture which resulted in practically adopting the American system, and at the same time carrying invisible hidden oppressive system by emperor-ism which is connected with people’s life and popular art world. European civilization not only forced the surrender of the Japanese system but of the people’s mind. We should revive and get back invisible, individual and independent culture “non slave-non tie system” that has been existing through thousands years carried by Japanese people’s mind and body before emperor-ism ”天皇制” existed, also not by European invented system, but original native culture that cultivated in unique small islands. Such as Assyria, India, China, Korea, through the Silk Road, and South East Asia, native Ainu those all different cultures have been adopted, mixed ,combined ,digested, grew thousand years that made invisible unique Japanese culture , free from system, people’s gentleness 人情 - "ninjyou"- (human nature), 真心 - "magokoro"- (devotion,)  kindly community so called ”MURA-村”. This “mura” and its' inhabitants, “murabito"-(村人)"- and "minshyu"-(民衆)” maintained community by their own people’s will 共生 "kyousei" (cohabitation) not by dictator under feudalistic system, those people’s sprit in the community has been totally destroyed by American influenced capitalist system. Japanese must find their origin of culture which Cusi Masuda calls “ Junsui Geijutsu, bunka-純粋芸術,文化” fine culture supported by pure spirit and dignity and free from system thousands years . He dedicates his work of art titled - "Victim and Assaulter -"被害者、 加害者" Haikai- "徘徊" eternal performance” to the victims of war, people who worked hard, sacrificed their life to rebuild abandoned Japan and people who survived horrible assault on Japan by endless bomb attacks including nuclear bombs by USA, his sister, brother, and father who died right after the war, and his now-passed mother and brother who survived through and after the war.


Written April 17th, 2018.

Note: The above profile was written in the third person by Cusi Masuda himself.



The following essay written the day 67th anniversary of the Hiroshima A-Bomb 8/6 2012.


Art is deep, wide, pure, simple, direct, raw, obscure, and invisible but you feel it.

Art has hundred faces of aspect to feel and come to your heart.

Art adopts and influences to people’s mind, sense but none of them are same.

Creative art stands alone and away from politics, religion and money.

Art is human creation but belongs to nature like air, tree, mountain, river, ocean, and sun.

Art is digestible and can become part of your body, so you can live with it.

Art encourages you to feel and embrace the world where you live through all your life.