Željka Čorak was born in 1943 in Zagreb. She graduated from classics high school and took a BA (art history) at the Faculty of Philosophy, Zagreb University, 1967. She had an equal interest in literature, philosophy and art history. She very early on started publishing art and literary criticism. For some time she was a freelance artist; later on she edited the journals Telegram, Life of Art and Architecture / Telegram, Život umjetnosti and Arhitektura. In the literary critical area she made her name with a book of essays about European poets and with translations of selected verses from them.
In 1970 she won the Mladost Prize for literature.
Since 1972 she has worked in the Art History Institute.
As well as literary work, she translates from French, English and Slovene. With her husband Zvonimir Mrkonjić she translated sonnets by Shakespeare and translated the poetry of Rilke. In an anthology of French translations, she is the second most represented translator. She has also published her own book of excellent prose Krhotine/Shards (1991), for which she won the Goran Wreath and the Vladimir Nazor Prize in 1992. In her own words, this lyrical book of memoirs joins her two professions - literature, and the history of art of the 19th century. She also deals with the history of Croatian architecture, town planning and contemporary planning and environmental protection. She is the author of the books At the service of the sign, 1981, Zagreb Cathedral, 1988 (Božidar Adžija Prize), Zagreb, a written space, 1994 (with A. Deanović). She has published a hundred forewords and postscripts for catalogues and exhibitions, among which of particular interest are a Retrospective Exhibition of Herman Bollé, Marin Tartaglia, Holy Trace and many architectural exhibitions. She is one of the authors of proposals for the Zagreb Salon, and has written many monographs. She has worked with Croatian and foreign museums, has had many sabbaticals abroad. She took her doctorate with a dissertation on the Work of Drago Ibler, in which she tracked the oscillations in taste in Europe from Historicism to Art Informel, the problem of the relationship between style and ideology. This problem was posed on the living person of Miroslav Krleža - the relationship between Ibler’s architecture and the sentences of Krleža.
She had a crucial role as vice-president of Croatian PEN Centre during the Homeland War. She has worked on many exhibitions with all the museums in the country, from the Ethnographic Museum and the exhibition Pag Lace, to the exhibition Art Nouveau/Secession in Croatia at the Museum of Arts and Crafts.
Together with co-worker Tonko Maroević and the Franciscan Stjepan Pavić she founded and was one of the authors of the first permanent display of the Šimun Gallery in Dubrave (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
For her literary, translation and professional work she has won a number of awards and distinctions at home and abroad, and as well as those mentioned has won the Zagreb City Prize three times. She has been decorated with the Order of the Croatian Daystar with Figure of Marko Marulić and the French decoration Chevalier des Lettres et des Arts.
NB. Data taken from the questionnaire, material taken from the Personnel Archives of the MDC, and from an interview recorded on February 12, 2002.
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