Commuters drive past a billboard displaying a reproduction of "The Scream" painting by Norwegian expressionist Edward Munch (1863-1944) on north Tehran's Modares highway, May 9, 2015. AFP / BEHROUZ MEHRI
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Drivers and millions of commuters used to spending hours in Tehran traffic jams have at least had something nicer to look at during journeys this week – famous works of art.Some 1,600 billboards featuring 200 Western and Asian works and 500 Iranian ones now sit near murals of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his predecessor, the Islamic Republic's founder Ruhollah Khomeini, and countless martyrs of the Iran-Iraq war.Take, for example, "The Son of Man," the famous work by Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte – in which a green apple sits like a clown's nose before the face of a man in tie and bowler hat – now stares out at drivers from an overpass.The art has been a long time coming, according to Hamid Rezaie, a public relations officer for the Organization for Tehran's Beautification, who noted that Iranian sculptor Said Shalapour came up with the idea a decade ago.Leading figures in Iran's art scene welcomed the scheme.
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