Arts & Entertainment

West Orange War Hero's Art to be Displayed At 70th Anniversary D-Day Retrospective in Normandy

Maxine Giannini stands with a portrait of her husband after the war. The photo was taken in Giannini's studio in his West Orange home. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
A photo of Ugo Giannini during WWII. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
The original sketch of Giannini's  sketch of D +1 looking out to Pont du Hoc that will be part of the St. Lo exhibition. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Giannini's final work, depicting "H Hour" when D-Day actually began. It was completed one month before his death in 1993. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Sketches from D-Day. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Sketches from D-Day. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Sketches from D-Day. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Giannini's war buddies, most of whom were 18 to 20 years old. Giannini was 22 when he was drafted and 25 during D-Day. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
One of Giannini's abstract paintings, completed in the last decade of his life. Giannini traveled to Normandy prior to his death. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE. NJ - As the 70th Anniversary of D-Day draws near and Memorial Day observances across the nation pause to recall our fallen soldiers in war, the little-known story of Ugo Giannini must be told. 

Ugo Giannini grew up in Newark. He was an artist, showing skill from a young age and attended the National Academy of Design in New York. Giannini was drafted into the army and shipped overseas during WWII, where he was part of the 29th Division, "Comprised mostly of southern boys," smiled Maxine Giannini, Ugo's widow. "You can imagine how different they were - an Italian boy from Newark, and southern boys? But they really did become a band of brothers."

Giannini landed at  Dog Green sector, Omaha Beach, with the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division. He had just been transferred to the unit's Military Police along with the other "Dogface soldiers," many of whom were the age of graduating high school seniors, when they took part in the D-Day Invasion beginning on June 6, 1944. Giannini was one of 6 survivors from his 37-man platoon on the Vierville Draw, jumping 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". 

Sign Up for E-News

What few know is that Ugo Giannini sketched scenes of D-Day as events occurred, preserving images not ever captured in photograph or film. Many of his sketches depict scenes on Vierville sur Mer, Normandy, Omaha Beach, as the invasion occurred. 

History tells the tale of the massive invasion of D-Day and how it turned the tide of WWII. America and the Allies lost tens of thousands of men during the 44 day breakout from Normandy, and notes Maxine, "they did not change their clothes the entire time."

Following Omaha Beach, Giannini moved through France, Holland and Germany until the war ended on May 8, 1945 and managed to preserve his sketches. He met his wife, Maxine, an artist and piano teacher, following the war, and returned to France to study with renowned artist Fernand Leger. The Gianninis settled in West Orange in 1961, where they raised their family. Ugo was an Art Professor at Caldwell College for 25 years and continued to paint, his strength in abstract art. 

Giannini, according to his wife, spent the last decade of his life "creating a memorial to his fallen comrades," in the form of oil paintings focused on WWII. "His art was a silent salute to his fellow soldiers, showing the trauma and personal impact of the war," she noted. He died from complications of pulmonary fibrosis in 1993.

"Ugo, along with other soldiers from WWII, bear impenetrable barriers," Maxine continued. "It's a defense mechanism. There was no PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition not formally identified until years later). "It was a ceaseless struggle, and young boys came back as strangers, trying to survive, get married, and raise families."

After Giannini's death, his wife discovered his sketches and letters written to a former girlfriend describing the war. "He never spoke about it," she said. "His art was his expression."

In 2013, after 20 years of research, Maxine Giannini published a book of her husband's sketches called "Drawing D-Day."

It seems fitting that ten of Ugo Giannini's D-Day sketches have been selected as part of an exhibition in a rebuilt St. Lo Hospital to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. Maxine will be traveling to France to participate in the event, where Ugo's works will line the entryways of the hospital.

"Most people don't realize that WWII was a Universal War", said Maxine. Just as D-Day took place on many fronts, WWII took place across Europe, in the South Pacific, and locales worldwide.

While the American landscape was spared the devastation of war, the surviving veterans of WWII were forever changed, having often only each other to share the depth of their experiences. Ugo Giannini is not only a war hero, but the voice of a generation that often did not speak, and an expression of its pain and heartbreak. 

For more information on "Drawing D-Day," go to:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

Full Pet Grooming Service 25% OFF

April 20, 2018

LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Cloud Canine Grooming Salon & Spa in Little Falls is open for business and owner and pet stylist Melissa DiRoma is offering 25% off a FULL GROOMING SERVICE for all new customers. Call (973) 837-8884 or visit to schedule your appointment. Mention promo code TAP DOG for discount. 

About Cloud ...

Free Wellness Event at The Joint Chiropractic

WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The public is invited to a "Wellness Event to Remember" at The Joint Chiropractic in West Caldwell on Thursday, April 19 from 7 p.m. to  9 p.m.

Guests will include:

Michael Piercy, owner of The Lab
Justyna Debski, owner of Revive Mind Body
Karen Caplan, owner of Nutrition Transitions

Join the ...

Luxury Facial Services 50% OFF

MILLBURN, NJ - DeAmour Salon & Spa is proud to announce its newest team member, Renee Rudikh, formerly of the famous Georgette Klinger Spa at the Short Hills Mall.

Rudikh has extensive experience and specializes in a plethora of facial styles including: deep pore cleansing/European, microdermabrasion with collagen, teenage, men's, back, LED and customized European ...

YMCA $0 Enrollment in April

LIVINGSTON, NJ - For the month of April, the West Essex YMCA is offer $0 enrollment. 

Take advantage of all that your local Y has to offer for the whole family!

Personal Training
Group Classes
Low monthly membership
And much much more!...

Check out all that the Y has to offer HERE

About the West Essex YMCA:
The West Essex YMCA has ...

MAX Challenge of West Orange - 2 Weeks FREE and more...

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The MAX Challenge of West Orange is about to start its next challenge.  Sign up before April 9, and you will receive maximum benefits, including two weeks free!



12 weeks for the price of 10
Unlimited fitness classes 
Nutritional ...

deAmour Salon - Complimentary Blowout with Other Select Services - $40+ Value

Millburn, NJ - Salon Profilo in Milburn has recently rebranded to deAmour Salon & Spa! In celebration, owners Roula and Grace are inviting new and existing clients to enjoy a complimentary blowout with any color service. Call (973) 379-8300 to schedule your appointment. Promo code: TAP COLOR

deAmor Salon specializes in multiple coloring techniques and stays current on industry ...

County Announces Improvement Plans for Grover Cleveland Park Playground and Tennis Courts

April 20, 2018

CALDWELL/ESSEX FELLS, NJ — Nearly $1.2 million in improvements will be made to modernize the Essex County Grover Cleveland Park playground and tennis courts.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. announced his improvement plans on Friday morning, stating that Grover Cleveland Park is a popular site for families and children, and that the playground and tennis courts need to be ...

Upcoming Events


Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

West Orange High School, West Orange

FREE self-defense and safety seminar for teens ...

Health & Wellness


Wed, April 25, 7:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity


Letter to the Editor: Lions Club of West Orange Spaghetti Dinner

April 16, 2018

Dear Editor,

Since 1953, the Lions Club of West Orange has been recognized throughout the township for our service to the blind and visually impaired. A majority of the world’s eye banks, clinics, and eye research centers are established and supported by all Lions Clubs throughout the world.

We are men and women committed to helping provide quality eye care, eye ...

West Orange Community House Seeks Community Sponsors

April 17, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Boys & Girls Club at the West Orange Community House (WOCH) has opened its new 9,000 square foot recreational facility at 250 Main Street in West Orange.

The WOCH has been supporting families of West Orange for 100 years, and needs help to continue providing much-needed recreational programs to West Orange. By placing an advertisement banner on the gym ...

Cluelessly Clueless

I teenaged my way through high school under the assumption that my parents had no idea what I was doing.  I like to think I was pretty good at withholding information and presenting situations in ways that were other than they really were.


Still, sometimes they found things out.  Like the time my friends plopped me on our front door step at one o'clock in the morning ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...