Billboard in Tehran shows The Son of Man by the Belgian surrealist René Magritte next to a painting by famous Iranian artist Sohrab Sepehri. Photograph: Hamed Khorshidi/

The Guardian: Tehran swaps 'death to America' billboards for Picasso and Matisse

Hoardings in the Iranian capital are normally reserved for ads, religious quotes or anti-US slogans, but a new project has transformed the city into a giant gallery

Tehran’s billboards are usually a place for commercials about the latest gadgets, household items and cheese-flavoured crisps. They also display portraits of martyrs from the eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, quotes from religious figures and the now less frequent “death to America” posters.

But, overnight, the Iranian capital has had a facelift. In a project which the city’s mayor hopes will encourage people to visit museums, the billboard ads have been replaced with artworks by renowned local and foreign artists. For 10 days, images by the likes of Pablo Picasso, René Magritte and Henri Matisse are turning the capital into a giant urban art gallery.

WNU Editor: One day Iran will change .... this is just one very small (I repeat .... very small) baby step towards that change.

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