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Masha Bruskina

Nancy Spero (American, 1926-2009)

Masha Bruskina, 1995

  • Acrylic on linen
  • 122 1/4 x 146 1/2 in. (310.5 x 372.1 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Fine Arts Acquisitions Committee Fund, Blanche and Romie Shapiro Fund, Kristie A. Jayne Fund, Sara Schlesinger Bequest, and Miki Denhof Bequest, 2002-12a-c

Not on view



Masha Bruskina


Masha Bruskina


  • What are the various elements that make up this painting?

  • What do the writing and images remind you of?

  • What do you notice about the way the painting is hung on the wall? Why do you think the artist hung the sections with push pins instead of framing them?

  • From looking at the images and reading some of the text, what can you tell about the subject matter of this artwork?


After giving students ample opportunity to examine this painting, lead them in a discussion of related topics and themes:

  • Nancy Spero has reproduced sections of newspaper articles and old photos to tell the story of Masha Bruskina, a young Jewish woman who resisted the Nazis during World War II. Spero combines these elements in a seemingly haphazard way. Why do you think this is? What is the effect of this approach? Do you think it is the most effective way to tell the story? If not, why do it this way?

  • Why do you think Spero tells the story through newspaper accounts and photographs published in the press? Why not rewrite the story in her own words or through interviews or other sources? What do you think Spero is saying about the ways we get information?

  • Masha Bruskina was only seventeen when she helped Soviet prisoners escape from the Nazis. What do you think causes one person to defy the Nazis and another to go along with their policies? What factors come into play?

  • Is Masha Bruskina a hero? What makes a hero? Who are your heroes?


  • Resistance
  • Biography
  • Contemporary Art