The father of Verona resident Mark Giannini was among the first group of soldiers to land on Normandy Beach on D-Day. Ugo Giannini was one of only 6 of his band of 31 soldiers to survive onto the beach. The young man, who had been an art student in Newark prior to the war, managed to get across the beach and into a crater, which became his vantage point for one of the most harrowing days in American military history. He drew what he witnessed on June 6, 1944 as it happened, and committed many of the days that followed to his sketchpad as his unit marched across Europe to Berlin.
On February 8, those drawings will be the centerpiece of an exhibit at JCC Metrowest’s Gaelen Gallery West in Whippany. Discovered by Mark Giannini and his mother, Maxine Yellin Giannini, after Ugo Giannini’s death in 1993, the works are a stark and sobering look at the realities of war. Ugo Giannini’s drawings are believed to be the only drawings done on D-Day still in existence. The exhibit, which runs through March 5, also features works such as “Requiem St. Lo”. Made after the war, this piece honored his unit, the 29th Infantry Division, which suffered 2,400 casualties on D-Day. The paintings and drawings have been show across the U.S. and were part of an exhibit at Omaha Beach for the 65th Anniversary of D-Day.
The exhibit’s opening reception is Sunday, February 14 at 2 p.m. Maxine Yellin Giannini will speak about her husband’s work, some of which will also be included in a collection of his war-time letters, H-Hour. The gallery is located at 901 Route 10 in Whippany. It is open Monday toThursday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no charge for the reception or gallery entrance.[mappress]