Kanovitz's first one-man exhibition was in 1962 at the Stable Gallery in New York City. After 1963 he was working with photographic illustrations using the figure, and began ironic depictions of American urban dwellers in a Photo-realistic style. From 1967 on, he used an air-brush rather than more traditional artists' tools.
He had large one-man exhibitions at the Jewish Museum in New York City in 1966 and in 1974 at the Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum, Duisburg, Germany. He has been shown at various exhibitions in Germany as a protagonist of new aspects of realism, including Documenta 6, Kassel in 1972.
Kanovitz received a Berlin Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst Fellowship. He also exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.