In addition to her film stills, Sherman has appropriated a number of other visual forms— the centerfold, fashion photograph, historical portrait, and soft-core sex image. These and other series, like the 1980s "Fairy Tales and Disasters" sequence, were shown for the first time at the Metro Pictures Gallery in New York City. With her series Rear Screen Projections, 1980, Sherman switched from black-and-white to color and to clearly larger formats. Centerfolds/Horizontals, 1981, are inspired by the center spreads in fashion and pornographic magazines. The twelve photographs were initially commissioned -- but not used by -- Artforum's Editor in Chief Ingrid Sischy for an artist's section in the magazine. Close-cropped and close up, they portray young women in various roles, from a sultry seductress to a frightened, vulnerable victim who might have just been raped. About her aims with the self-portraits, Sherman has said: "Some of them I’d hope would seem very psychological. While I’m working I might feel as tormented as the person I’m portraying.” In Fairy Tales, 1985, and Disasters, 1986–1989, Cindy Sherman uses visible prostheses and mannequins for the first time. Between 1989 and 1990, Sherman made thirty-five much larger color photographs restaging the settings of various European portrait paintings of the fifteenth through early nineteenth centuries. Under the title History Portraits Sherman photographed herself in costumes flanked with props and prosthetics portraying famous artistic figures of the past, like Raphael’s La Fornarina, Caravaggio’s Sick Bacchus and Judith Beheadding Holofernes, or Jean Fouquet’s Madonna of Melun.
In response to the NEA funding controversy involving photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, Sherman produced the Sex series in 1989. These photographs featured pieced-together medical dummies in flagrante delicto. In 2003, finally, she produced the Clowns cycle, where the use of digital photography enabled her to create chromatically garish backdrops and montages of numerous characters.