Heinz Koppel was born into a Jewish family in Berlin, Germany on 29 January 1919; his parents divorced in 1930 and his father, Joachim, remarried. Koppel showed an early interest in art and had private art lessons under the painter Grigorij Oscheroff while at Secondary school. Following the rise of Nazism, Joachim, who had established business interests in Prague, took his family there for safety in 1933 and Koppel took private lessons from the painter Friedrich (later Fred) Feigl. In 1935-36 he travelled to London and studied under Martin Bloch at his School for Contemporary Painting until, after losing their German citizenship, the family became 'stateless persons', living briefly in Italy and Antwerp, before gaining Costa Rican citizenship and returning to Britian in 1938. Joachim established his business in the Treforest Industrial Estate, near Pontrypridd, Wales in 1939, and Koppel resumed lessons with Bloch in London. In 1941 he began teaching at the Burslem School of Art in Stoke-on-Trent and in 1942 exhibited at Jack Bilbo’s Modern Art Gallery.

In 1944 Koppel moved to Dowlais, South Wales, working as an art teacher in Merthyr Tydfil Educational Settlement, a school for workers and their families, and establishing the Merthyr Tydfil Art Society the same year. In 1947 he exhibited with the Welsh Arts Council and became head of the Dowlais Art Centre in 1948, leading to a Dowlais group exhibition at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. He had a joint exhibition with sculptor John Brown at the Kingly Gallery, London in 1949 and also exhibited at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. In 1956 he returned to London, exhibiting at Helen Lessore's Beaux Art Gallery (1958, 1960, 1963) and participated in group shows at Ben Uri Gallery (1946, 1960). He taught at Hornsey School of Art (1960), and at Camberwell (1960-63), and became senior lecturer for Painting at Liverpool College of Art (1964), then a professor at the Slade School of Fine Art. He spent his final years in Aberystwyth; his last exhibition was at the Oriel Gallery, Cardiff in 1978. Heinz Koppel died in London, England on 1 December 1980.