Helen Varola is an art advisor who addresses the strategic needs of art placement for private and corporate clients internationally. She has advised 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 the private collection of Charles S. Cohen, President and CEO, Cohen Brothers Realty and advises on art placement for Cohen Media and Cohen Brothers’ national real estate portfolio.
From 2009-18 Varola curated designLAb at the Pacific Design Center (PDC) in West Hollywood, a project that explored the use of design as an extension of artists' studio practice. 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.”
designLAb programming included commissions, residencies and artist-led projects that utilized the PDC's unique design context. Varola invited internationally recognized artists, curators, galleries and non-profit institutions that included 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.
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 completed an internship at the St. Louis Art Museum and afterwards worked with Paula Cooper Gallery and other New York galleries (Peter Blum, Blum Helman, Houk Friedman) before beginning her independent art advisory practice.
Helen 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.