Jiří Georg Dokoupil was born on June 3, 1954, in Krnov (now Czech Republic). After the violent ending of the Prague Spring in 1968, the family moved to Germany. Dokoupil graduated from high school and then studied from 1976 to 1978 in Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, and in New York, at Cooper Union, where German Conceptualist Hans Haacke was one of his teachers. After his return to Cologne, he met Walter Dahn in 1979, and the two embarked upon numerous collaborations.
The first paintings were done by projecting drawings onto canvases and then tracing them. In 1980 Dahn, Dokoupil, Hans Peter Adamski, and Peter Bömmels, the original members of the Mülheimer Freiheit, had an exhibition at the Hahnentorburg, the Cologne headquarters of the Bundesverband Bildender Künstler (Federal association of artists). The show, Auch wenn das Perlhuhn leise weint (Even if the guinea fowl softly cries), was attended by Bruno Bischofberger and gallerist Paul Maenz, who then organized the first group show for the Mülheimer Freiheit. In 1980 Dokoupil's painting, Italienische Insekten (Italian Insects) confronted the Italian Transavanguardia, while works such as Frühlingssturm (Spring Storm) or Fruchtwasser (Amniotic Fluid) referred to Fetting and Salomé in Berlin.
In 1985 Corporations and Products signaled the start of a series of large paintings and smaller bronzes, which dealt with famous companies and product names. Dokoupil works conceptually and does not adhere to a particular style. Instead, he continued to invent new content for his paintings, such as the 1982 group of works, Neue Kölner Schule (New Cologne school) and Blaue Bilder über die Liebe (Blue Paintings about Love), or the Schnuller Bilder (Pacifier Paintings, 1983-84). For almost every series he invented a new technique; for instance, he began with the soot paintings in 1988, the soap bubble paintings in 1991; then came the tire paintings, the whip paintings (2002-03), and the film paintings (begun in 2007). Some of the works are reminiscent of graffiti; others recall children's drawings, while still others seem to be conducting a dialogue with other artists.
In the early 1980s each of the different groups of works could be seen in various famous galleries in New York, such as Leo Castelli, Ileana Sonnabend, Mary Boone, Robert Miller, and Tony Shafrazi. At the documenta 7 he showed the work Gott zeig mir Deine Eier (God, show me your balls), in a reference to the Plate Paintings by Julian Schnabel, who had not been invited. For the Zeitgeist exhibition in Berlin in 1982 he parodied the style of the young Berlin painters, especially Middendorf 's.
To this day, Dokoupil's work cannot be categorized under any particular style, which has earned him the nickname of Sphinx. He taught at the art academy in Düsseldorf in 1983-84, and has been a teacher at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid since 1989. Dokoupil lives and works in Berlin, Madrid, Prague, and Rio de Janeiro.