© 2014 VAROLA, West Hollywood 

 Helen Varola founded Helen Varola Advisory in 1999 to address the strategic needs of art placement for the New York real estate community. With an aim to raising criticality in public art commissioning practice and regenerating sites as active places for public engagement, she has placed art for top real estate and asset management companies such as Cohen Brothers Realty, Equity Office, RXR, The Carlyle Group, Related, Taconic Investment Partners and Hines. Since 2005, Varola oversees Cohen Brothers’ national real estate portfolio and the private collection of art collector Charles S. Cohen, President and CEO of Cohen Brothers Realty. 

Varola launched her time-based curatorial project designLAb at the Pacific Design Center in 2009. In a profile for Art in America, Kris Kraus noted that “under Helen Varola the PDC has become the home of some of LA’s most innovative, ambitious young galleries.” Varola tested out new methods of thinking of long-term programming which develops over time, through commissions, residencies and special projects that evolve, utilizing the unique context of PDC’s design platform.

Varola has invited a range of internationally recognized artists, curators, galleries and non-profits to designLAb including LAND, Alex Israel, Piero Golia, Diana Thater, Walead Beshty, Will Ryman, Peter Zellner, Tejo Remy, Patrick Painter, Blum & Poe, Paul Young, Christopher W Mount, Industry, Nobuo Sekine, Elena Manfredi, Honor Fraser, Tracy Williams and Christopher Grimes. In 2014 Varola opened her eponymous project space at designLAb presenting monumental work by Simryn Gill.

Varola studied Art History and Political Science as an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Chicago (M.A.,1982) where she studied with Harold Rosenberg and Thomas Crow. Upon graduation she worked at Paula Cooper Gallery and with other noted contemporary art dealers such as Irving Blum, before beginning her independent curatorial practice. She also served as Curator and Director of Exhibitions for the International Sculpture Center, Washington, D.C. and worked with South African photographer David Goldblatt at the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University.

Varola’s curatorial work has been reviewed in Architectural Digest, Art in America, Art Net, Art Monthly, Flash Art, Interior Design, Los Angeles Times, Klat, The Art Newspaper, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. Varola has written several articles on recent contemporary art for publications such as Forum International, Neue Bildende Kunst, Trans>, and Time Out New York. She is the co-editor of the book Con Art and her work is noted in Anthony Haden-Guest’s landmark 1996 publication on the New York art world, True Colors.