Caldwell, N.J.—July 2 , 2013—
“One doesn’t send an artist into battle for naught.”
That line from a book of his World War II letters and remembrances neatly sums up the work of the late Ugo Giannini, a gifted artist, writer and former Caldwell University art professor. His widow, Maxine, recently donated reproductions of two of his drawings and a copy of the book to the college’s Jennings’s library.
“His writing is just beautiful and it reflected his teaching, which was very philosophical,” said Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P., professional artist and professor emerita, who began the college art department. “He was like a father figure to the students.” Ugo taught at the college for over 25 years.
Maxine Giannini, a resident of West Orange, N.J., found a treasure trove of her late husband’s art in his studio after his death in 1993 at age 74. Ugo Giannini, a Newark native, was among the first American troops to land on Omaha Beach in the D-Day invasion of June 1944. Some of his battlefield sketches were done on the spot.
The giclees that were donated to Caldwell University are called “H-Hour-June 6, 1944” and “The Requiem St. Lo, Normandy, France-July 18, 1944.”
Nancy Becker, Ed.D., executive director of the Jennings library said the library was honored to receive the gift from Mrs. Giannini. “The book and drawings not only capture the courage and sacrifices of a generation of Americans but also reflect the remarkable artistic and spiritual gifts Professor Giannini shared with the Caldwell University community.”
“H-Hour” shows a red arrow representing the Allied invading force. The Xs indicate the obstacles placed by the Nazis to prevent boats from landing. The green dot represents the sector in which the 116th U.S. Regiment was to land. This was one of Giannini’s last works.
St. Lo, a vital communications center in France, had to be taken by the Allies. On July 18, 1944, a special group of motorized units from the 29th Division occupied St. Lo after fierce house-to-house fighting .The 29th Division had formed the cutting edge from the beaches of Normandy to St. Lo. In 1991, 47 years after the battle, Giannini created “The Requiem for St. Lo.” The yin and yang symbolize the 29th Division, and the crosses represent suffering and death. The gravestones scattered almost randomly across the picture’s plan unite to create a haunting composition.