Generally speaking, idealism is a philosophical standpoint that sees reality in terms of a mental construction independent of external stimuli, which do not really exist.
But the term is used in other contexts. For instance, religious idealism emphasizes the reality of consciousness and the illusory or impermanent nature of matter. And psychological idealism focuses on individual consciousness as the unavoidable interpreter of data.
In art, idealism is an arguably vague term that, among other things, refers to artworks more concerned about how the subject makes us feel or think, instead of trying to capture how it appears to the naked eye (which is realism).
As such, idealism art champions aesthetics over actuality, giving its works softer edges, less detail, contour and perhaps simpler colors than works of realism (which look more like photographic representations while following strict “rules” of painting).
In music, the Bach cantatas have been described in terms of idealism because the lyrics tell of Lutheran Christian worshipers, holding steadfast to their faith and thus repulsing the attacks and deceits of the devil.
The topic of idealism is so broad, however, that I refer readers to the following:
- Higher Centers (sarmoung.wordpress.com)
- New Philosophy Books Received in August (leiterreports.typepad.com)
- Force Of Consciousness (dragonintuitive.com)
- Truth is Beauty, Beauty is Truth (kriseyes.wordpress.com)
- Philosophy Blogging, OOO/SR, Nihilism, and God (footnotes2plato.com)
- Whiteheadian Panentheism and Ralph Pred’s “Onflow” (footnotes2plato.com)