Cook, a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, learned printmaking from Joseph Pennell at the Art Students League in the early 1920s. He subsequently traveled widely, including a trip to Maine in the summer of 1926. The magazine Forum printed his woodcuts from the New England stay and then sent Crook to New Mexico to provide illustrative "atmosphere" for its publication of Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. From then on, he was fascinated by the Southwest. Cook continued to travel, learning lithography in Paris and exhibiting his work in New York. From the late 1920s to the early 1930s, he and his wife lived primarily in New York, where ongoing construction in the city was a major subject of his art. In 1939, the couple settled in New Mexico and Cook took up mural painting. His later work in oils, pastels, watercolors, and graphics won him critical acclaim. His career was curtailed after he contracted multiple sclerosis, but he continued to receive honors and prizes and to take part in exhibitions.