By Lauren Young
NEW YORK (Reuters) - From the stern couple in "American Gothic" displayed at a bus station in New York to the colorful flags in "Allies Day" over an intersection in Chicago, paintings are popping up everywhere in what is billed as the world's largest art show.
"Art Everywhere US," which was launched this week and runs through Aug. 31, features reproductions of 58 classic and contemporary American paintings, including works by Grant Wood, Childe Hassam and Winslow Homer, displayed on public spaces in cities and rural areas normally reserved for advertising.
The aim of the project is to spark conversations and museum visits.
"It is our hope that glimpses of great art on the streets will lead people to the masterpieces of the originals," Douglas Druick, president of the Art Institute of Chicago, said at the launch of the project in New York.
The Art Institute is one of the five American museums participating in the massive art road show spanning all 50 states through a collaboration with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.
"Art Everywhere US" features works of art on more than 50,000 digital and static displays such as billboards, bus shelters and signs. The art will also be shown in movie theater trailers, on video screens at health clubs and other locations.
The U.S. art show is the offshoot of last summer's "Art Everywhere UK", which was the brainchild of businessman Richard Reed, a co-founder of beverage company Innocent Drinks.
"It exists to flood our streets with art," Reed said at the launch.
Fifty of the images on display were chosen by public vote from the museums' collections. Eight more were added "for context and dimension," said Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Dallas Museum of Art, which is a partner in the project.
People viewing the art are encouraged to take selfies, or self portraits, with the art works and to share them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets.
An app is also available for viewers who want to dig deeper into the history of the works.
In addition to the Dallas and Chicago museums, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York are taking part in the project.
(Reporting by Lauren Young; Editing by Patricia Reaney and James Dalgleish)