A broader conception of life (humans, plants, animals , the cosmos et al) would clearly suggest that art imitates life. However within the confines of the human existance it would seem that art can and frequently anticipates what is to come and brilliantly articulates what has been, and predicts with great accuracy how humans will behave and act. So, ipso facto, life imitates art and we do well to take note of arts ongoing and enduring revelations.
Because of the nature of life and the nature of art itself, it's more of a full circle because life imitates art and art imitates life. One cannot be without the other because they complete each other and are, then, rather just two sides of the same coin. It's just the way you see it.
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Over the years, art has escalated from cave paintings to canvases and last to modern media and graphic arts. Now debates have arose over whether art is still being imitated by life or is life imitated by the arts? This question has grown over the years especially since the violence initiated by the media from movies like V for Vendetta and Batman the Dark Knight. Some argue that media has not influenced any of the violence or protests within the world, while others reinforce the need to limit the violence displayed on modern television. Even though there are some who still believe in the philosophy of art imitating life, the fact that over the course of time this idea has slowly dwindled until the perception is switched. In modern times, art does not imitate life, instead life imitates art. Taken into moderate consideration, art does imitate life to a certain extent. This perception is supported by several factors; one form of evidence to support this idea is cave paintings. One major and internationally known collection of cave paintings is found in Lascaux, France discovered by a group of boys in the 1940s. According to Yost’s article from the Wall Street Journal, the images were of everyday objects within the Stone Age, for example “’Frieze of Stags,’ which shows several deer from the shoulder up migrating across the cave wall” (Yost, 2013, para. 3). This is a daily image during the Stone Age, during this time period there were no religious or cultural influences that were pressed upon these early artists. Instead, they merely painted what they saw; this is a type of genre painting in its most primitive form. This form of painting supports the idea of art imitating life, because the subject matters of these cave paintings were everyday chores or activities. Another form of art imitating life is the genre painting in western art that consisted of images of ordinary objects. According to Harris, western art of the seventeenth century were “concerned with pictorial representation of ordinary objects within daily life…scenes include. ..Plants and flowers…jewelry, cups, plates…and furniture” (Harris, 2006, p. 131). This statement reinforces the idea that life influences art to a certain degree. Regular and normal tools or images that are seen in a day to day basis that can be turned into a painting or artwork illuminate the perception that art does imitate life. When people do stuff in real life that's inspired by literature, music, film, etc. though many would say that this art was first inspired by real life. So it's a chicken-or-the-egg debate.
Without life there would be no art. When you are about to make a piece of artwork you need that inspiration that will drive you to create something amazing. Inspiration comes from experiences. Things that have happened to you in your life or things that you have seen. We can have an imagination, but this always stems from something we have already perceived. Art is made to remember or to forget an event. But you cannot have that without living it for yourself. Life does not imitate art. Life is art. They need each other and life without art is just stupid.
In order to create a piece of art one must have an inspiration and/or an imagination. The human brain can NOT imagine something that does not exist. The parietal lobe is responsible for one's imagination more or less (Also responsible for integrating sensory information) and the neural signals from the parietal lobe are sent down to the occipital lobe while images of reality flow upwards from the occipital lobe to the parietal lobe. One's imagination is images from reality being sent to the parietal lobe and being combined with neural signals of sensory information (Sight,touch, smell, etc.) leading to the an imaginary image, which is from reality. So an artist must imitate reality in order to imagine a piece of art. Art imitates life.
Art imitates life more then life imitates art. Most art if not all art is somewhat derived from what the artist has experienced in their life. There is no way that life can really imitate art, since art is derived from life. I can think of no art pieces where life is imitating it.
Clearly, art imitates life more than life imitates art. People write stories and make movies about the best parts of life and the parts that are interesting. It's impossible for life to imitate art, because life is random and dictated by chance. If life could imitate art, we would have no need to make art in the first place.