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 Sam Glankoff  (1894 - 1982)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: expressionist woodcuts (1920-30s); large colored multi-panel print-painting monotypes (1970-80s)

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Sam Glankoff
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

The following information was submitted in April of 2006 by  Wendy Snyder, Director of the Glankoff  Collection:

SAM GLANKOFF (Samuel Glanckopf/Samuel Glanckoff) was born on October 30, 1894, in New York City.  Virtually self taught, his early art education was primarily based upon studying and copying minature paintings that he saw at the Metropolitan Museum.  This solitary apprenticeship to art was to resonate in his work for the rest of his life.

Glankoff's mother, Yetta, had emigrated to the United States from Riga, Latvia during the 1880s.  At the time of her marriage in New York to Jacob Glanckopf, a salesman of exotic feathers for hats, she was a millinery designer whose artistic creations were favored by many well known actresses of the theatre.  Yet she abandoned a thriving business and redirected her creative and intellectual energies to her four children full time.  Without having had a formal education, she possessed a profound, inexplicable reverence for music and literature -- particularly the romantics and the Russians.  She instilled in her children a voracious interest in culture and social consciousness.  The children were raised to read and speak German fluently. Glankoff showed artistic aptitude and aspirations at an early age.  He played the violin as well. Jacob Glanckopf took little interest in the raising of the family and discouraged Sam's artistic pursuits.

In his early teenage years, Glankoff pursued any job where he could use a paintbrush.  He often spent time in museums instead of attending school.  In 1915, at the age of 20, Glankoff signed up for evening classes at the Art Student’s League.  In 1917, when America declared that it would enter the War, Glankoff, without telling his family, departed New York for Cuba as a conscientious objector.  The few years in Cuba were the only time during his life in which Glankoff actually sold paintings -- itinerantly on horseback, as a means of earning food and shelter. 

Near the end of the War, Glankoff and a fellow traveler were mistakenly arrested on charges of blowing up the East Coast Railroad and Wireless Station in Miami and Glankoff was confined, until the signing of the Second Armistice, in the dungeon of a sixteenth century fortress built by de Soto on the Isle of Pines.  There has been understandable speculation that Glankoff's personal style  -- one of isolation, of "inwardness" -- was defined during this period in Cuba.  Glankoff paid for his return to New York by painting two commissioned portraits of the German Cigar magnate, Herr Uppman, whom he met while in prison, and his American girlfriend.  Only photographs of these final Cuban works exist today.

In 1920, upon his return to New York City Glankoff worked as a commercial artist and continued to paint.  He lived on MacDougal and Bleecker Street with his brother Mort.   He then moved to the artists enclave of Union Square and then to a studio on 59th Street.  He spent long periods in Gloucester, Massachusetts and Woodstock, New York, noted artist colonies.  Yet in each situation Glankoff maintained a private existence.  Woodcuts and linocuts became his primary means of expression in his commercial work and in his personal work as well.

In 1922 he was persuaded to meet Juliana Force, Director of the Whitney Studio Club, whose exhibitions were held at the Anderson Galleries around the corner from 59th Street.  From 1922 until the Club disbanded in 1928, Glankoff was invited to show.  In a New York Times review of the 1922 Group Show, Glankoff was singled out along with William Glackens, Rockwell Kent and John Sloan for his painting of a Gloucester rock sea-scape aptly entitled, Solitude.  In 1925, Glankoff showed what would become his preferred medium and the basis for his artistic innovation: a simple woodcut. 

Inspired by a seminal book on the history of the woodcut, Das Holzschnittbuch published in 1921, Glankoff adapted the more free-form "with the grain" techniques of the German Expressionists whose works were published for the first time in this book.  Glankoff discovered "a freedom to be expressive...with the wood by working with it, rather than against it.", and the direction of his work changed dramatically.

As head artist for numerous art service studios in the 1920s and 30s, Glankoff used this rough and expressive style to illustrate books and literary magazines such as St. Nicholas, Scribners and the New Yorker.  He contributed covers and the cartoon character of "Mr. Petworthy" to his brother Mort's newly founded Cue Magazine.  Reticent of outsiders judging his art, Glankoff would not submit his work nor agree to join the WPA.

In 1929, Glankoff began to live with Frances Kornblum, with whom he remained for forty years.  In the 1930s and 40s they lived in both Woodstock, New York and New York City.  After his experience in Cuba, Glankoff never traveled beyond those boundaries.

Into the 1940s, Glankoff would alternate his more personal work in painting and woodcut with a prolific career as a commercial illustrator and comic strip artist.  Glankoff was head artist for True Comics, a comic book and nationally syndicated comic strip series featuring historical legends, literary classics and science fiction and he illustrated a great number of comic-strip-style advertising campaigns for companies like Westinghouse and Chiquita Banana.  To all of these efforts, Glankoff rarely signed his name.  During this time, Glankoff continued to hone his skill in woodcut and as his interest in abstraction developed he became fascinated with water-based pigments.  He continued to use these methods and media for the remainder of his artistic life.

In the mid-1950s, with the desire to experience less struggle in making a living, Glankoff began assisting  Kornblum by designing stuffed animals for her toy company, Impulse Items.  From the 1950s until 1970, Glankoff designed and fabricated over 200 stuffed animal designs including the original three-dimensional versions of Babar the Elephant and Dr. Suess' Cat in the Hat.  The toys sold internationally, but the financial struggle remained. Only in these years did he do little personal work.

When Kornblum died in late 1970, Glankoff immediately walked away from Impulse Items and began to devote himself entirely to his art.  He created a studio in the small rent controlled two room apartment where they had lived.  He sold the small house in Woodstock.  With the dividends from the sale of the house, he had the financial security to pay the $70 a month rent and the materials to pursue his artistic endeavors full time for the first time in fifty years.

It was at this time that the scale of Glankoff's work changed.  He returned to the abstract collage monotype woodcuts he had been working on throughout the 1950s.   In 1970, he "had a fascination to make larger things." 

After viewing an exhibition of Oriental Art (possibly the woodcuts of Munakata), Glankoff became intrigued by the idea that small blocks could be joined together to produce large works -- an idea made attractive by the limited size of his available working space.  He began to join panels of uniform sized paper together, thus devising his unique method of transfer-painting or print-painting, a variation on monotype, woodcut and direct painting. 

In the mid 1970s, curators from the Whitney Museum of American Art visited Sam in his studio. Glankoff defined his technique as “using a printing method to make a painting.”  It was then that the term “Print-Painting” was coined.  The curators offered him a show to which he said, “I’m not ready yet.”

In October, 1981, Sam Glankoff had his first one-man show at the age of eighty-seven at the Graham Gallery in New York only a few months before his death in 1982.  Sam Glankoff 1894-1982: A Retrospective Exhibition, his first museum show of over 130 paintings, woodcuts, commercial illustrations and multi-paneled “Print-Paintings”, was held in 1984 at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University.

Throughout his life, Sam Glankoff made no effort to allow his art  to be in the public eye.  His audience has grown and his recognition among museum curators has been established by word of mouth.  His work is now in many private and corporate collections and museum collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum  of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Detroit Institute of Arts among others.

(Derived from the Catalogue Notes for GLANKOFF, Sam Glankoff (1894-1982 A Retrospective Exhibition. "Introduction" by Sam Hunter; Essay: "His Life and Art" by Marilyn Kushner; September 16 - November 27, 1984,  Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.)

Museum Solo Exhibitions

1994  The Sam Glankoff Exhibition, The Rosenblum Museum, Sydney, Australia, August 3 - December 5
1984  Sam Glankoff (1894 1982): A Retrospective Exhibition,  Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum, Rutgers New Brunswick, NJ, September 9 - November 27

Museum Group Exhibitions

2004  The Stamp of Impulse, Abstract Expressionist Prints, The Parish Art Museum, Southampton, NY
2003  The Stamp of Impulse, Abstract Expressionist Prints, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, IL           
2002  The Stamp of Impulse, Abstract Expressionist Prints, Amon Carter Museum, Ft. Worth, TX
2002  The Stamp of Impulse, Abstract Expressionist Prints, Cleveland Museum of Art, OH
2001  The Stamp of Impulse, Abstract Expressionist Prints, Worcester Art Museum, MA
1995  Enigmas and Abstractions: Prints and Drawings from the Permanent Collection, Detroit Institute of Arts, MI
1992  Woodcuts from the Collection, Smith College Museum, Northampton, MA
1988  The Jewish Museum Collects: A Five Year Review, New York, NY Detroit Institute of Arts, MI
1985  Collector's Choice Gallery 19, Marion Koogler McNae Art Institute, San Antonio, TX
1983  Collector's Choice Gallery 17, Marion Koogler McNae Art Institute, San Antonio, TX
1982  22nd National Print Exhibition, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
1981  Twentieth Century American Prints and Drawings - A Selection from the Permanent Collection, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
           
Solo Exhibitions

2004-5  American Modernist: Sam Glankoff (1894-1982), David Sutherland Inc., Los Angeles, CA
1991  Sam Glankoff (1894 1982) An Overview 1940 1982 Watercolors, Woodcuts and "Print Paintings" Victoria Munroe Gallery, New York, NY
1989  Print Paintings, Tilden Foley Gallery, New Orleans, LA
1987  Print Paintings, Roger Ramsay Gallery, Chicago, IL
1984  Woodcuts and Monoprints 1925 1965, Associated American Artists, NYC
1982  Sam Glankoff, The Harkness House Gallery, New York, NY
1981  Print Paintings, The Graham Gallery, New York, NY

Group Exhibitions

2006  Los Angeles Modernism Show, Annex Galleries, Los Angeles, CA
2006  Washington International Print Fair, Annex Galleries, Arlington, VA
2006  Chicago Fine Print Fair, Annex Galleries, Chicago, IL   
2006  Works on Paper, Conner-Rosenkranz, New York, NY
2005  International Fine Print Fair, New York,  Sragow Gallery, New York, NY Works on Paper, Conner/Rosenkranz, New York, NY
2004  Works on Paper, Conner/Rosenkranz, New York, NY
2002  International Fine Print Fair, New York,  Sragow Gallery, New York, NY
2000  Works on Paper, Conner/Rosenkranz, New York, NY International Fine Print Fair, New York,  Sragow Gallery, New York, NY
1999  International Fine Print Fair, New York,  Sragow Gallery, New York, NY
1998  International Fine Print Fair, New York,  Sragow Gallery, New York, NY
1997  Against the Grain, Works of Art from the 1960s & 1970s, Snyder Fine Art, New York, NY
1995  New Art, Artists, Estates, Snyder Fine Art, New York, NY
1994  The Art Show, Art Dealer's Association, New York, O'Hara Gallery, NY
1993  Abstractions, Elizabeth Moore Gallery, New York, NY
1992  Color Block Prints of the 20th Century, Associated American Artists, New York, NY
1992  Annual Collector's Exhibition, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas
1991  Modern American Prints, Associated American Artists, New York, NY
1990  Selected Works on Paper, Victoria Munroe Gallery, New York, NY
1987  Image to Abstraction The Fifties, Luise Ross Gallery, New York, NY
1986  American Master Prints, Associated American Artists, New York, NY
          The Discerning Eye, Associated American Artists, New York, NY
          Chicago International Art Exposition, Associated American Artists, New York
          Chicago International Art Exposition, Roger Ramsay Gallery, Chicago, IL
          America Between the Wars Urban and Rural Views, Smith Anderson Gallery,
PaloAlto, CA
          Masters of Science Fiction Art, Olympia & York Gallery, New York, NY
          American Prints 1880 -1950, Pace Master Editions, New York, NY
1985  Group Show, Princeton Fine Art Gallery, Princeton, NJ
          Prints From Blocks 1900-1985, Associated American Artists, New York, NY
          Back Streets/Back Yards, Associated American Artists, New York, NY
1984  Fifty Years of Fine Prints, Associated American Artists, New York, NY
1982  Annual Art on Paper Exhibition, Weatherspoon Gallery,
          University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC
          Woman Subject and Object, Vanderwoude Tannanbaum Gallery, New York, NY

           
Museum Collections
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; The Jewish Museum; Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum; The Worcester Museum; The Fogg Art Museum; The Skirball Cultural Center; New York Public Library; New York University; Northwestern University - Mary and Leigh Block Gallery; Weslyan University - Davison Art Center; Smith College Museum

Private Collections
Becton Dickinson and Company; Champion International Paper; Chemical Bank Collection; Davis, Polk and Wardwell; The Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection; The Harry Kahn and Ruth Bowman Collection; The Donald Oresman Collection; Philip Morris, Incorporated; The Rita Rich Collection; Seligman and Latz; Simpson, Thatcher and Bartlett; Stephens, Incorporated; Stone Container, Incorporated; The David Williams Collection

Selected Bibliography

2005  Kurlander, Karen. “Art & Design” Western Interiors, Pg. 23, July/August
2004  Will, Jesse.  “Show Time: Hampton’s Design House” House & Garden, October
2004  Gomez, Edward. Insider’s Guide 2004/2005 Art & Antiques, Pg.27-31, October
2004  Gomez, Edward. “Another World: Evaluating Abstract Art” Art & Antiques, Pg.46-53, Sept.
1996  Gomez, Edward. "A New Look at American Modernism" Art &Antiques, Pg.39-43, Feb.
1994  McDonald, John."Extremes in Quality of the Experience" Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 27
1994  Booth, Karen."Artist Explores Human Experience" Australian Jewish Times, Sept. 9
1991  Gordon, Alistair. "A Lifetime of Painting" New York Newsdav February 12, 1991
          Edelman, Robert. "Sam Glankoff at Victoria Munroe" Art in America, July 1991
          "Sam Glankoff" New York Yomiuri Newspaper (Japanese) February 1, 1991   
1990  Orrick, Phyllis. "Etched in Time" New York Press, vol. 3, no.41, October 10.   
1989  Green, Roger. "Printed Paintings" The Times Picayune, March 3.
1987  Cohrs, Timothy. "Image to Abstraction   The Fifties" ARTS Magazine, December.
1986  Artner, Alan. "Glankoff   A Discovery" Chicago Tribune, May 15.
1985  Campbell, Lawrence "Sam Glankoff at Zimmerli Museum and A.A.A." Art in America, June.
          Kushner, Marilyn and Wechsler, Jeffrey. "Sam Glankoff and Painting" Print Review 20,
          August (Cover Feature), pgs. 44 53.
          Shirai, Akiko. "Fall Art Season In New York City 1984" Hanga Geijutsu, (Japanese) pgs. 186 187.   
          The Print Collector, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring Issue
1984  Brown, Doris E. "Glankoff Exhibition Will Open At Zimmerli" The Home News (Leisure), Sept. 9.
         Caccavale, Judy. "Two Shows at Zimmerli" The News Tribune (Previews), October 5.
         Mullen, Rachel. "Sam Glankoff, Once Overlooked, Gets Recognition He Deserves"
         The Observer Tribune (In The Galleries), September 27 (syndicated).
         Raynor, Vivien. "A Late Bloomer at Rutgers" The New York Times, October 28.
         Russell, John. "Woodcuts and Monotypes by Sam Glankoff: A.A.A. Gallery" The New York Times, Oct. 26.
         Sinclaire, Estelle F. "Glankoff's Print Paintings Make Up Zimmerli Show"  The Princeton Packet Time Off: On View, October 17 (syndicated).
         Virshup, Amy. "Sam Glankoff's At Last Show" New York Magazine, September 10.
         Watkins, Eileen. "Glankoff Exhibit Surveys More Than 50 Year Career" The Sunday Star Ledger, Oct. 28.
        "Museum Catalogues: Sam Glankoff (1894 1982)   A Retrospective Exhibition"
         The Print Collector's Newsletter, vol. 15, no. 5. November December.
        "Works of a Shy Artist" The New York Times, New Jersey Guide, November 18.
        "Sam Glankoff: A Retrospective" Journal of the Print World, vol. 7 no. 1, October.
        "National Highlights: Sam Glankoff at Zimmerli Art Museum" Art Now/New York, Art Now/USA: 
        Gallery Guide, October.
         "Sam Glankoff Exhibition at Zimmerli Museum" The Periscope: Rutqers Today, October.
1982  Goldman, Judith. "Sam Glankoff: 'Maybe I'm Not Bad'" ARTnews, September, pgs. 70, 71.
          Quindlen, Anna. "An Artist's Late Emergence Into Life's Sunlight"  The New York Times,
          "About New York", July 14.
          "Sam Glankoff, Artist: Had Fall Debut at 87"  The New York Times, Obituary, April 15.
1981  Larson, Kay. "Sam Glankoff," New York Magazine, October 26.
          Phillips, Deborah. "Sam Glankoff: Graham Gallery, "ARTnews , December.
          Spiegelman, Art. "Glankoff," Reuters, (wire service feature), November 2.
          Thomas, Robert McG. Jr.. "Reluctant Artist Ventures Back Into Public Eye" The New York Times "Notes on People", October 12.
1981   Tully, Judd. "Glankoff, 87 First Solo" Art/World, vol. 6 no. 1, September 16   October 17.
1922 -28  Whitney Studio Club Exhibition Reviews (selected), The New York Times.

Selected Catalogues

Works on Paper 2005,  Conner/Rosenkranz Gallery, New York,  March, 2005.
American Modernist: Sam Glankoff (1894-1982), David Sutherland Inc., Los Angeles, CA Dec. 2004.
Works on Paper 2004,  Conner/Rosenkranz Gallery, New York,  March, 2004.
Works on Paper 2002,  Conner/Rosenkranz Gallery, New York,  March, 2002.
Stamp of Impulse: Abstract Expressionist Prints,Worcester Museum, MA, 2001.
Works on Paper 2000,  Conner/Rosenkranz Gallery, New York,  March, 2000.
American Master Prints, Associated American Artists Gallery, November 1 26, 1986,
Photo: Number 14 "Four Figures," 1933.
The Discerning Eye, Associated American Artists Gallery, September 30-October 31, 1986.
 "Artistic Development," Number 68 Urban Landscape,1924; Number 69
Composition in Red and Brown, 1977.

Print Review 20, (Cover Feature Story), "Sam Glankoff and Print Painting," Marilyn Kushner
and Jeffrey Wechsler, August 1985.
Prints From Blocks 1900   1985, "20th Century American Woodcuts, Wood Engravings and Linocuts"    
Associated American Artists Gallery, April 24 May 31, 1985, Photos: Number 63
"Landscape With House And Trees, 1924; Number 64 "Portrait of a Young Girl, 1925.
Back Streets/Back Yards, Associated American Artists Gallery, August 12 September 4, 1985 Landscape With House And Trees, 1924.
Fifty Years of Fine Prints, Associated American Artists Gallery, November 7   December 29, 1984
 Text pg. 24, Photo: Number 151 "Five Trees," 1928.
Sam Glankoff: Woodcuts and Monoprints, Associated American Artists, October 2   10 1984
Essay: Bob Conway, Director.
Sam Glankoff (1894 1982) A Retrospective Exhibition, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, September 16   November 27, 1984 Introduction: Sam Hunter, Essay: Marilyn Kushner.
Art At Philip Morris, 1983, Text by Mary Lanier, Stephanie French, John Urbain
Pgs. 20, 34, 35;  Photo PP4185.
Twenty Second National Print Exhibition, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
October 3, 1982   February 3, 1983, pg 40 Photos: Number 43 PP6002, Number 44 PP6006.
Sam Glankoff: Print Paintings, Graham Gallery, October 6 31, 1981; Essay: Amei Wallach.
The Virginia Quarterly Review, Autumn 1940, pgs. 564 565; Photos: "Boy With Cat" " Portrait of a Woman".
PRINTS, Volume VI, Number 4, April 1936, pg. 222; Photo: "Two Nudes," c1920 30's.

Selected Lectures
"Sam Glankoff" The Rosenblum Museum, Sydney, Australia, August 4, 1994 
 Andrea Stretton, Minister on the Arts and Communication, Eileen Chanin, MacQuarie Galleries
"Sam Glankoff (1894 1982) A Retrospective Exhibition," Zimmerli Museum, New Jersey
 Assistant Director, Jeffrey Wechsler, September 15, 1984 (transcript available)


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