Born in New York, Sam Glankoff was primarily self-taught as a painter, attending evening classes at the Art Students League between 1915 and 1917. When the US entered WWI, Glankoff, opposed to the idea of killing, registered as a conscientious objector and self-exiled to Cuba. He did not return until peace was declared.
Glankoff made his first woodcuts in 1920. These included black and white figurative studies and still life. He work evolved into color woodcuts in the 1940s and abstraction in the 1960s and 1970s.
His fine art production was placed second to making a living in commercial design and book illustration. In the 1950s Glankoff was the chief designer for Impulse Items, his wife's company. He designed models for toys, including Cat-in-the-hat and Babar.
In the late 1950s he experimented with combining objects, gesso and carved woodblocks and created a personal means of expression. Intensely private, with the exception of showing his work in the annual exhibitions of the Whitney Studio Club (1922-1928) he chose not to participate in the art world. After the death of his wife, Frances Kornblum, Glankoff exiled himself to his two-room apartment on East 37 Street. He devised means of working in a relatively large format within very limited space and produced a body of unique prints, which he referred to “painting prints.” His first solo exhibition of his life work was held in 1981 at the Graham Gallery in New York.