Moholy-Nagy painted on celluloid as early as 1923-1926, and continued to experiment thereafter using new thermoplastic products as painting surfaces as they became available. In 1935 he acquired a sheet of clear Rhodoid plastic, a forerunner of plexiglas that had been developed by the German firm of Roehm and Haas. From it he created his first "light modulator," in which light passed through the partly etched and painted plastic sheet to create shadows on the white wooden mount behind it. While recalling the stained-glass windows of Gothic architecture, these works utilized modern technology without imitating old techniques, resulting in a new capability of painting with light.
Many of these works retain the flatness of the plastic sheet, while in others, such as present work, Moholy-Nagy manipulated the sheet to create a new sense of space. The artist wrote in 1944: "The last step was the distortion of the flat plane itself. Thermoplastics, when heated, can be easily shaped. One day it occurred to me that by painting on flat plastic sheets, I neglected this essential property of the material. Thus I heated, bent, and twisted a transparent sheet after painting on it. With this manipulation I arrived at complex concave and convex curvatures which created a constantly changing relationship between the painted and engraved transparent planes and the background, resulting in a new type of 'related' distortions" (from "Abstract of an Artist", reprinted in K. Passuth, Moholy-Nagy, London, 1985, p. 383).
Moholy-Nagy considered Transparent Rho 60 to be his first Rhodoid work in which he had successfully realized the potential of this new material. He kept it hung on his studio wall, and frequently showed and explained it to visitors and students.