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Italian American Museum
Presents
An Artist's Journey Through War
An exhibition featuring the drawings of
WWII veteran and artist Ugo Giannini


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Memories of St. Lo: An Old Man of War 1944, 15 x 19, Pencil/pen ” x 30”

The Italian American Museum will present 22 works by Ugo Giannini created on the D-Day invasion battlefield in 1944. Giannini, an infantryman from Newark, was also a trained artist.

The exhibition, comprised of 19 drawings and three paintings, will run from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31 in the Museum's Gallery. Hours are Fridays through Sundays, noon to 6 PM. An opening reception will take place on Friday, Oct. 14 at 6:30 PM. Suggested admission is $7

About the Exhibit
Drawing D-Day offers an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind testimony in words and images by a soldier and artist of the U.S. Army's 29th Infantry Division, of one of the most famous military operations of World War II. On June 6, 1944, Ugo Giannini landed on Omaha Beach at H+70 minutes as one of a platoon of military police assigned to the 29th Division. Ugo's team was to control the incoming traffic. There were thirty-seven men in his platoon; they were decimated in the first ten minutes. Six men got to the beach. Someone told Ugo that he was needed on the bluff above. He climbed the Vierville Draw, jumped into a crater made by naval bombardment, and spent that day and part of the next day as an eyewitness to the greatest invasion ever conceived by the military. Remarkably, he began to draw. These are the only known drawings made that historic day, as well as the next. Drawn in pencil and pen, in a gritty, realistic style, the images show heavily burdened infantrymen trying to stay afloat in the seawater, crawling on the beach or dead among the ruins of a bombed out village. Interwoven with letters home written by a young man to his family and his girlfriend, the words and images portray the horror of war in a deep and personal way. The abstract paintings in this exhibition provide a powerful statement, composed forty years after the initial experience; a testimony to the enduring power of war on the psyche on one artist-soldier, Ugo Giannini. Maxine Giannini

Biography of Ugo Giannini
Ugo Giannini (1919 - 1993) was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of an immigrant family. His father came from the medieval village of Serracapriola, in the province of Foggia and his mother came from Milan. Ugo grew up during the Depression and was able to obtain work through WPA (Works Progress Administration). He began to study art at the National Academy of Design in New York but his studies were interrupted when Ugo was drafted in 1942. Ugo was assigned to a military police platoon in the 29th Infantry Division shortly before D-Day. He went in with the 116th Regiment at H+70 minutes. It was then that Ugo began to record the battles and events until the German surrender in May 1945. After his release from military service, Ugo resumed his study of art at The Arts Students League in New York. He remained in New York until relocating to France, where he spent a year studying with the famed painter, Fernand Leger (1881-1955). Leger's influence asserts itself in a number of Ugo's latter day pieces. After returning to the United States, he settled in New Jersey, married concert pianist Maxine and began teaching at Caldwell College. Content to pursue his teaching and his fascination with a wide ranging exploration of 20th Century Art doubtless fueled by his wartime experiences, he spent his life quietly and modestly in West Orange, New Jersey. He and Maxine have a son and daughter. Shortly before succumbing to the illness that ended his life, Ugo Giannini went to France, where he became ill with pneumonia and his trip to Normandy was cancelled. He was unable to return, which was a heartbreak for him. The experience he had while in World War II remained with him throughout his life and artistic career.

 


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