Virve Sarapik is an art and culture scholar and a professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts Institute of Art History and Visual Culture. She defended her doctorate in 1999 at the University of Tartu in the field of semiotics and cultural theory, and pursued postgraduate studies at the universities of Oslo, Helsinki, Oxford and Ljubljana.
In addition to EAA, Sarapik has worked at the Estonian Academy of Sciences Under and Tuglas Literature Centre (1998–2002) and the Estonian Literary Museum (2003–2013). She has also been the principal investigator of several research themes that have received public grants. Since 2017, she is the head of the Institute of Art History and Visual Culture at the EAA.
Sarapik’s research interests focus on the relationships between different art forms – literature and visual art – and metatexts that intermediate those relationships (criticism, art historiography). At the theoretical level, she has mainly engaged with topics of picture theory and spatial representation, a line of research that was closely linked to the Koht ja Paik / Place and Location series of events and publications (1998–2007). The empirical material for her research has above all been sourced from the late Soviet and transition period, but she has also studied the modernization processes in early 20th century Estonian culture.
Since 2003, Sarapik has been the editor-in-chief of the journal Kunstiteaduslikke Uurimusi / Studies on Art and Architecture. She was one of the founders of the Etüüde nüüdiskultuurist / Studies in Contemporary Estonian Culture series of conferences and publications, and has edited several collected volumes on the culture of the Soviet period.