Nathan Coe’s Beaches and Babes are a Nantucket Dream

Offering a provocative, surrealist take on sun, surf, and sand, Nantucket photographer Nathan Coe captures summer’s sensuality in a new exhibition at Cavalier Galleries. Coe’s double-exposure photographs layer hazy depictions of beaches and dunes with silhouettes of twisting female nudes, such that the horizons and coastlines become inseparable from the body’s curves.

Coe photographs what he knows; British-born, he is a long-time Nantucket resident. By juxtaposing intimate details of the local landscape—patches of sand on secluded beaches, dewy grasses, slices of glinting sea water—with depictions of anonymous, goddess-like subjects, Coe cloaks the seascape with an aura of the sublime. Clothed only in the patterns and landforms of the coastal town, the figures encapsulate ideas of divine femininity.

The works in Coe’s Cavalier exhibition range in palette—from sandy, subtle earth tones to lush greens and blues to somber black and whites—as well as in degrees of surreality. Some works superimpose vivid designs and terrains onto black-and-white nudes as reverential adornment. Others take a more playful approach: lounging bodies are seen through the photographer’s eyes, the subjects framed by his sunglasses.

The work on view here is tinged with reverence, both for the seductiveness of Coe’s adopted home and that of his subjects. This respect extends to the presentation of the photos themselves—each is offered only in an edition of one, in alignment with the unique memory of a perfect day at the beach.


—K. Sundberg


Nathan Coe: Photography Exhibition” is on view at Cavalier Galleries, Nantucket, Aug. 10–18, 2015.


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